Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Republicans Be Careful What You Wish For - Tea Party Blocks GOP on Patriot Act

Remember back in November when all of the Republicans were jumping for joy and dancing in the streets at their recent "shellacking" of the Democrats during the midterm elections?  'Member?  You 'member!  Do you also remember all the Tea Party rhetoric about "taking their government back" from the establishment?  'Member? You 'member!  Because if you do remember then you have a better memory (or perhaps you just paid better attention) than the Republican party, because as it turns out, while John Boehner and the Republicans were enjoying a good cry over their victory at the polls last November, they missed out on an important lesson.   As the great Kelly Lebrock once said: "You had to be big shots didn't you? You had to show off. When are you gonna learn that people will like you for who you are, not for what you can give them? Well, in your race for power and glory, you forgot one small detail."  But unlike Wierd Science's Wyatt and Gary, the small detail here wasn't remembering to hook up the doll.  The small detail that the GOP overlooked here is this: the Tea Party doesn't like you guys either.

So what happened exactly?  The House Republicans, who now control the House 242 to 193, tried to pull a parliamentarian maneuver to expedite the approval of 3 key provisions of the Patriot Act that, due to their controversial nature, require reauthorization from Congress every so often.  (they are set to expire on February 28, 2011).   Because its an expedited maneuver, instead of a regular vote, it required a 2/3 vote (in this case, 283 Representatives) in order to pass the House which, of course, makes it more difficult to pass than it would if it were a regular vote requiring only a simple majority.  So why do it this way?  Because it prevents "anybody" (which basically means Democrats) from adding amendments to the provisions that might water them down or render them useless altogether.

Thinking they could get it passed, the House Republican Leadership (John Boehner and crew) brought the reauthorization bill to the floor for a vote.  What happened next was the GOP's first lesson in Tea Party 101.  The bill failed by 7 votes: 277 in favor, 148 against.  Of those 148 votes against: 122 were Democrats (which came at no surprise given their vocal opposition to the Patriot Act), but 26 of the Nay votes were Republicans.  12 of those 26 Nay Republicans were the Tea Party caucus members.  Stated differently, had the Tea Party Republicans voted with their Republican brethren, the bill would have passed.

Now, of course, the bill will be reintroduced under the normal procedure and will likely pass with a simple majority vote before February 28, but that's beside the point.  The point here is that the Tea Party agenda and the Republican agenda are not the same.  Most of us knew this aleady, but sometimes people insist on learning things the hard way.

What does this mean for Republicans going forward?
Will the Tea Party run its own Presidential Candidate in 2012?
When, if ever, will the Republcian Party distance itself from the Tea Party?
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