From Jake Sherman of Politico, on the chaotic state of the House Republican caucus these days:
The inability to find unifying principles is sometimes in plain view: House Republicans spent two days last week passing legislation that extended the authority of the government’s helium reserves, which Democrats would’ve allowed them to pass by unanimous voice vote.
Here’s a bit more:
The GOP leadership is dealing with an unprecedented level of frustration in running the House, according to conversations with more than a dozen aides and lawmakers in and around leadership. Leadership is talking past each other. The conference is split by warring factions. And influential outside groups are fighting them.
….The House simply isn’t interested in the agendas being pushed by the president and Democratic Senate. Most Republicans aren’t looking for a big legislative push on gun control. GOP leaders are skeptical that they can arrive at a framework to negotiate a budget agreement with Senate Democrats. And tax reform and an immigration overhaul, while broadly supported, are still seen as long shots.
Members of leadership have trouble staying on the same page. Cantor is anxious to move on his agenda, but McCarthy needs to gather support in a House Republican Conference that’s filled with lawmakers constantly divided on leadership’s priorities.
Much to the chagrin of GOP leadership, outside groups — Club for Growth and Heritage Action — oppose top Republicans at every turn. Those groups claim they don’t ever hear from Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy. The conservative groups — natural allies who could give cover to the House Republican Conference — feel they have no buy-in to their agenda from the House GOP leadership.
Apparently there are now two groups of Republicans in the House. First, there’s a group of firebrand conservatives headed by Eric Cantor, which, as near as I can tell, is mostly dedicated to finding slightly more slippery language to sell its usual right-wing agenda of school vouchers, block granting Medicaid, increased tax credits, and gutting labor laws. Second, there’s a group of insane, frothing-at-the-mouth conservatives who think of Cantor as Nancy Pelosi’s lapdog and are basically uninterested in anything other than repealing Obamacare, slashing taxes even more, ending the welfare state, and making speeches about how Obama is destroying America. It’s quite a little group that John Boehner has up there.