Who had the worst week in Washington? GOP Whip Steve Scalise
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Louisiana’s Steve Scalise was elected as the House majority whip in June in a leadership shake-up that many Republicans touted as a new and more successful chapter for the party in Washington. (Scalise’s election into leadership was the final domino to fall after then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost a primary earlier in June.)
Scalise’s job is to, yes, whip votes to support the GOP leadership’s legislative priorities. Like the $659 million spending bill pushed by Speaker John Boehner, Ohio, to address the crisis of undocumented children crossing into the country at the southern border.
Boehner — and Scalise — wanted to get the legislation passed and then get out of town for the planned five-week August recess, putting the ball back in President Barack Obama’s court when it came to dealing with the border crisis.
As late as Thursday morning, the GOP leaders were declaring victory. And Scalise was reveling in headlines like this one from National Journal: “Facing First Whip Test, Scalise Gets Good Marks So Far on Border Bill.”
As the day went on, however, it became clear that the votes for the Boehner bill just weren’t there. The bill was pulled from the House floor — a sure sign of chaos — and a special meeting of the Republican conference was called as the party’s leaders scrambled to save face.
Republicans appeared headed toward passing a last-minute funding bill before leaving for the summer, but the message was clear. On everything from taxes to the farm bill, conservatives in the House have made it impossible for their party’s leaders to pass legislation that involves any sort of compromise with Obama. Some things never change.
Steve Scalise, for living down to your predecessors, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Cillizza covers the White House for The Washington Post and writes The Fix, its politics blog.