Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, withdrew the bill after failing
to corral a sufficient number of Republican votes for passage. That
left him in an all-too-familiar position of having to somehow pass
legislation or risk damage to his party in the November
congressional elections in which Republicans are trying to capture
A carefully crafted, $659 million bill to pay for more border
security and help feed and house tens of thousands of Central
American children arriving illegally in the United States
unexpectedly collapsed on Thursday.
Tea Party-backed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had his fingerprints all
over Thursday's debacle for Boehner. Cruz, a potential 2016
presidential contender, had lobbied his House Republican colleagues
to reject the legislation on the grounds that it was too timid.
The measure, complained Cruz, would not reverse President Barack
Obama's 2012 policy of suspending deportations of undocumented
residents who were brought to the United States as children by their
Shortly after the drama unfolded on the floor of the House of
Representatives, rank-and-file Republicans were publicly warring
with each other. "Someday, Republicans will wise up and stop
listening to Ted Cruz," Representative Peter King of New York told
reporters. Cruz and a handful of other Republicans, King said, "have
hijacked the party."
Contrast that with a pleased Representative Michele Bachmann, the
Minnesota Tea Party activist and failed 2012 presidential candidate.
"The people are very clear. They want people deported immediately,"
Bachmann said. "And they want to have the fence built up so that
they donít come in. They are tired of seeing their tax dollars spent
on people who are here illegally in the United States."
All this happened as Boehner and moderate Republicans try to expand
Republican Party appeal to the growing number of Hispanic voters,
who roundly rejected Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
Thursday's theatrics were not the first time Cruz proved to be a
thorn in Boehner's side.
The freshman Texas senator engineered October's government shutdown
when he prevailed upon House Republicans to withhold federal funds
until Obama's signature healthcare law was either repealed or
In the end, "Obamacare" was untouched, agency funding was restored
after a damaging 16-day shutdown and public opinion polls showed
that voters were disgusted with Republican tactics.
[to top of second column]
This latest dust-up over immigration, an issue that has dogged
Boehner for years amid Republican rank-and-file opposition to
comprehensive legislation, could foreshadow even tougher times in
That is when Congress returns from a five-week summer recess, a
break that was supposed to have begun for House members on Thursday
but was delayed by the border funding fight.
newly-installed leadership team, one that was supposed to
demonstrate improved ties with the party's conservative wing,
sputtered on Thursday.
That team will be tested in coming days, as Boehner tries to figure
out a way to finally pass a border-security funding bill, even if it
dies in the Senate.
And then, in September, Republican leaders will face another test of
whether they can win passage of a budget bill and avoid another
government shutdown, just weeks before November elections when
Boehner's party will be arguing that it can govern better than
It's an argument Democrats worked hard to unravel, even as the
Democratic-led Senate failed to win passage of a $2.7 billion
border-security funding bill. Republicans lined up to oppose it on
the grounds that it would have spent too much while not addressing
the root of the Central American migration problem.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski tried to
contrast her party's approach to that of Republicans when, during
Thursday's floor debate, she said she had spoken to a 15-year-old
girl whose parents were killed in gang violence in Honduras.
"You're going to send her back?" Mikulski asked.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, David Lawder and Mark
Felsenthal; Editing by Caren Bohan, Jonathan Oatis, Toni Reinhold
and Cynthia Osterman)
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