Perhaps the worst Congress in history is now just that…history. The end was as bad as it gets. The Republican-run House of Representatives finally was pushed in the last hours to avoid the misnamed “fiscal cliff.” However, in the process of having wasted a whole legislative year on foolish, meaningless votes, the House left town without passing laws that needed immediate action. Left to die were relief for the victims of the second-worst hurricane in our lifetime, Hurricane Sandy, and passage of an extension of the Violence Against Women Act.
Evidently, the extremists in the GOP House objected to protection from domestic violence being extended to 30 million LGBT, undocumented immigrant and Native American women, the very women most likely to experience such violence. Yet, the House found it quite easy to find the time to hold 33 meaningless votes to overturn what they deride as “Obamacare,” the last vote after the Supreme Court had already found the individual mandate in the act constitutional.
Virginia’s very own chief extremist, Eric Cantor, said the 33rd vote was so “we may all be on record in order to show that the House rejects ‘Obamacare.'” (I actually think that point had already been made 32 times before that July vote.)
It is pretty easy for me to figure out why politicians pandering to fundamentalists and extremists would refuse to give the protection of the law to gay women, undocumented immigrants and native American women. There are certain elements in that bunch of far-right extremists who have taken over the once-proud conservative Republican Party who think these women simply are getting what they somehow deserve. They’re the same bunch who believe women who are “legitimately raped” can somehow, by biological magic, keep conception from taking place, the same guys who in Virginia thought nothing of passing legislation to requires women to be subjected to “trans-vaginal ultrasounds” against their will (rape with an object) before receiving an abortion, the same ones who succeeded in making any facility that performs abortions meet the standards of a hospital. Women won’t forget how the GOP has become a party that either ignores or attacks women.
As they went out the door, John Boehner and the GOP representatives he supposedly “leads” also took the time to anger politicians from both parties representing the states in the North East that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Republicans Chris Christie and Peter King were furious at Boehner for breaking a promise to hold a vote on aid for affected victims before the end of the Congress. Boehner’s excuse? According to Reuters, Boehner cancelled the planned vote on Sandy relief because, according to a Boehner aide, it “was not a good time” to vote right after they had raised taxes for the richest Americans.
I have absolutely zero confidence that the 113th Congress will be able to navigate the upcoming debt ceiling and deficit reduction fight in a way that doesn’t harm the nation unless changes are made in how Congress operates. In the Congress just ended, Republicans in the Senate used the filibuster over 100 times, often simply for spite. At the same time, the House spun its wheels by taking wacky right-wing votes, rather than confronting ways to deal with the serious problems the nation faces, like crumbling infrastructure, climate change, and responsible deficit reduction.
I don’t see how any of this will be different in the future unless the filibuster rule in the Senate is changed, and Republicans are no longer the majority in the House. Right now, the Republican Party is not capable of governing anything. If conservatives want to be part of the political conversation needed to solve problems, they need to rid themselves of the anti-government, take-no-prisoners right-wingers who are calling the shots in the GOP.