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Stuck: Can Republicans Find a Way Out to Avoid a DHS Shutdown?

If cooler heads are going to prevail, they need to start working on a solution ASAP.

With about two weeks to go before the Department of Homeland Security runs out of funding, congressional Republicans appear to be stuck. You have House Republicans saying they’ve done their part by passing their DHS spending bill, which includes language rolling back President Obama’s immigration actions. And you have Senate Republicans throwing the ball back in the House’s court, because the House GOP measure -- due to Democrats’ successful filibusters -- can’t get 60 votes in the Senate. And right now, no one knows (or at least is telling us) how we get out of this mess. Now two weeks is a lifetime in Washington politics. But if cooler heads are going to prevail, they need to start working on a solution ASAP. Don’t forget this reality of governing in times of divided government: For legislation to become law, it needs to get 1) 218 votes in the House, 2) at least 60 votes in the Senate, and 3) the president’s signature. In other words … compromise. And that’s something that’s been missing all too often over the past four-plus years.

The blame game is already beginning

For their part, Republicans are blaming Senate Democrats for the impasse, saying that the Dem filibusters are blocking even BEGINNING debate on this spending bill. They also point out that the “clean” DHS funding bill that Democrats want can’t pass the GOP-controlled House and Senate, and that Democrats aren’t acknowledging that reality. What’s more, Republicans are even using some frightening imagery if the Department of Homeland Security does shut down (it runs of out funding on Feb. 27). “The Republicans – if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown – we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans,’” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said yesterday, per Politico. But as we’ve said before, playing politics with security is a dangerous game. While Republicans believe they are standing on principle on this, so do the White House and Democrats. And the fact of the matter is that Republicans were the ones that decided to use this vehicle -- DHS funding -- as the way to protest the president’s immigration actions. So unless they can someone get a bill passed that forces a presidential veto, Republicans are likely to own any shutdown of DHS. It will be much harder for them to sell the public that compromising on DHS funding is essential to protest the president's immigration actions.

Mistake Tuesday Part 1

To err is human, of course. But errors get magnified in the rough-and-tumble world of American politics. And yesterday we saw plenty of mistakes. The first came from the Obama administration in trying to play clean up over President Obama’s interview with Vox, in which he clumsily referred to that Paris violence as random. “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you've got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” Now the president and his administration have referred to that violence as anti-Semitic in the past, but people took exception to the president calling it random violence (fueling the growing narrative on the right that the president goes out of his way to downplay the threat). Then administration officials tried to clean up Obama’s language, and whiffed. “Both spokespeople — Jen Psaki of the State Department, and Josh Earnest of the White House — actually embraced Obama’s strange and incorrect statement rather than revise it,” New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes. After even more criticism, Earnest later tweeted, “Terror attack at Paris Kosher market was motivated by anti-Semitism. POTUS didn't intend to suggest otherwise.” What an unforced error, err, errors.

Mistake Tuesday Part 2

The other mistakes came from Jeb World -- first the email release that actually revealed folks’ Social Security and phone numbers (which they later said they would redact), and then the resignation of Bush’s new chief technological officer over past controversial tweets. For Bush World, it is a reminder of how difficult it is to build the metaphorical plane as you attempt to take off. Bush doesn't have a full-fledged operation and yesterday, it showed.

Pouring more gasoline on the David Brock-vs.-Priorities USA fire

Speaking of mistakes, it appears that folks are pouring more gasoline on the fire of the recent David Brock-vs.-Priorities USA spat. And it increasingly looks to be some Obama-ally-vs.-Clinton-ally drama. The New York Times: “The dispute broke into the open on Monday after David Brock, a Clinton ally, accused Priorities USA Action — a pro-Clinton “super PAC” whose co-chairman is Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s 2012 campaign manager — of planting negative stories about the fund-raising practices of Mr. Brock’s organizations. Mr. Brock resigned from the super PAC’s board in protest.” The problem here for Democrats: They’re litigating their problems through the press. And they probably don’t realize that it doesn’t take much to feed the narratives of Clinton drama or Clinton-vs.-Obama drama.

Priebus to speak at luncheon marking Black History Month

Lastly, RNC Chair Reince Priebus will be speaking today at the RNC’s third annual Trailblazers luncheon, which celebrates Black History Month. Per excerpts from Priebus’ remarks: “We are committed to being present 365 days a year. So it’s not just about making history, it’s also about making a difference in people’s lives. We don’t ask for votes just so we can win. We ask for votes so we can get to work on expanding opportunity.” More Priebus: “My commitment to you as Chairman is to continue building a bigger, stronger, more inclusive Republican Party. Not because it’s good for our party, but because it’s good for our country. It’s not just about one event or one day or one month or one election. This is about being present all the time. America is strongest when both parties fight to earn every vote. No voter should be taken for granted; no voter should be overlooked.”

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