A Tick-Tock of House Republican Obstruction

Since their first day leading the House, in addition to not having a jobs agenda, Republicans have manufactured crisis after crisis—holding hostage and adding poison pills to bills that have historically been bipartisan.  Despite the negative reviews they are receiving, House Republicans are continuing down this path, threatening more debt limit brinkmanship and the middle class tax cuts once again this summer.

As Congressional Scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein write:

“ In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted.  Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.  The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics.  It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Here’s a look back at the GOP’s obstruction-only record:

Spring 2011:  Brought Us to Brink of Government Shutdown.  The first thing House GOP did was try to use a must-pass funding bill to impose their ideological agenda, including no funding for Planned Parenthood, Title X, and implementing health reform.  Due to GOP intransigence, the government came within hours of shutting down.

Summer 2011:  Brought Us to Brink of Default.  For the first time in U.S. history, the House GOP spent months playing brinkmanship on raising the debt limit – with the final deal signed within hours of default.  As a result, for the first time in history, the U.S. credit rating was downgraded by S&P.  During those months, job creation nearly came to a halt, consumer confidence plummeted, and economic growth dramatically slowed.

Summer 2011:  Threw Construction Workers Out of Work.  By adding poison pills to a FAA extension bill, the House GOP’s actions led to a 13-day partial FAA shutdown, which halted hundreds of airport construction projects, leading to the furlough of tens of thousands of construction workers.

Fall 2011:  Held Up Disaster Relief.  The House GOP started claiming emergency disaster relief had to be offset.  They held up disaster relief by passing a bill offsetting certain relief with a $1.5 billion cut in the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which would have cost 10,000 good-paying American jobs.

Fall-Winter 2011:  For Months Threatened A Middle-Class Payroll Tax Increase.  In September, the President proposed an extension of the payroll tax cut.  For months, the House GOP then left middle class families uncertain whether their taxes would rise on January 1, refusing to act.  On December 13, they passed a bill full of poison pills unacceptable to Senate.  On December 20, House GOP irresponsibly left town, refusing to pass a Senate-passed two-month extension, with taxes about to go up. In face of criticism, Speaker Boehner passed Senate bill by UC.

Throughout 2012:  Have Blocked Most of American Jobs Act. While a few pieces of American Jobs Act (such as the payroll tax cut extension) have been enacted, the House GOP is still blocking most of the provisions, including new tax cuts for small businesses; getting teachers, police officers and firefighters back on the job; and jumpstarting critical infrastructure projects. These provisions would create more than one million jobs.

March-June 2012:  Delayed Bipartisan Transportation Bill for Months, Hurting Economy.  More than three months ago, the Senate passed a bipartisan, two-year transportation bill, by a bipartisan vote of 74 to 22.  House Republicans wasted 10 weeks trying and failing to pass a partisan bill, and then sent a three-month extension, full of poison pills, to conference.  The final conference report this week should have been done months ago.

March-June 2012:  Caused Unnecessary Uncertainty for College Students for Months.  Democrats have fought to block doubling of student loan rates on July 1 all year.  The House GOP budget called for the doubling to proceed.  Suddenly, in late April, House Republicans reversed their position and passed a student loan bill but paid for it by eliminating Prevention Fund.  The student loan agreement this week should have been done months ago.

April-June 2012:  Have Obstructed Bipartisan Senate-Passed Violence Against Women Act Bill. VAWA has always been bipartisan.  In April, the Senate passed a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization by vote of 68 to 31. In sharp contrast, the House GOP passed a highly partisan bill, weakening protections.  VAWA expires in September.

May-June 2012:  Are Holding Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage to Tax Breaks for Millionaires.  Since May, Democrats have been calling for quick action to extend tax cuts for the middle class – giving the middle class the certainty that their taxes won’t go up on January 1, 2013.  But Republicans are holding middle class tax cuts hostage, insisting they be tied to more tax cuts for millionaires.