The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Headline News

August 3, 2013

Republicans attack others in GOP

WASHINGTON — The barbs are personal, the differences are multiplying among Republicans, a party divided over spending, foreign policy, a willingness to risk a government shutdown in order to defund the health care law and more.

“I didn’t start this one and I don’t plan on starting things by criticizing other Republicans,” Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said recently as he and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likened one another to various cuts of a butchered pig.

“But if they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades.”

No matter who started it, in the past few months, one Republican called others “wacko birds,” another said some of the party’s lawmakers were “stale and moss-covered” and a third suggested one member of the GOP was a tool of the White House.

A recent flare-up over defunding the health law prompted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to question the political manhood of fellow Republicans unwilling to risk closing down the government over the future of “Obamacare,” as GOP critics call the law they want to repeal. “They’re scared of being beaten up politically,” he said.

Not all the disagreements are dipped in acrimony. Some are re-emerging after the party papered over its differences in an unsuccessful campaign to defeat President Barack Obama last year. This spring, 14 Senate Republicans supported legislation that included a chance at citizenship for millions living in the country illegally. The other 32 opposed it, including the entire top leadership.

In some cases, though, policy or strategic differences are overshadowed as Republicans simply call one another names, a type of clash that frequently pits newer, tea party-backed lawmakers against more experienced conservatives.

Two months ago, Sen. John McCain of Arizona likened Cruz, Paul and others to “wacko birds” for their style of confrontational politics.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan responded from across the Capitol. “Bravo, senator. You got us. Did you come up with that at #DinnerWithBarack?” he tweeted, a none-too-subtle suggestion that McCain was parroting a line he had heard at the White House.

Paul responded a short while later to McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential candidate and a fifth-term senator. “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?” he told an audience of conservatives.

Other, more recent clashes appear born of political calculations, and fall just shy of personal criticism.

Cruz, along with Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, recently urged Republicans to swear off voting for any year-end spending bill that includes money for the health law.

Others countered that the result could be a partial shutdown of the government and a political windfall for Democrats.

“I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. “Some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government, you better have a specific reason to do it that’s achievable.”

Burr was in the House nearly two decades ago when Republicans threatened they would shut down the government in hopes of winning spending concessions from President Bill Clinton. They followed through, but were eventually forced into a retreat as the White House held firm and public opinion turned against them.

All Republicans say they want to repeal the health law. But the tea party-backed campaign has thrust some lawmakers into difficult positions as they juggle competing political imperatives.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has refrained from signing the letter circulated by Lee, Cruz and others, even though he faces a primary challenge from the right in his re-election campaign in Kentucky.

The second-ranking GOP leader, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, signed the letter, then removed his name. A spokeswoman, Megan Mitchell, said that after the senator reviewed the document, which he already signed, he “felt the best approach” was legislation advanced by Cruz to “actually defund Obamacare.”

Differences among rank-and-file lawmakers make for bipartisan agreements, as on the immigration bill, but they also can make it hard for party leaders to negotiate effectively with the White House and Democrats.

Ironically, the consequences of a lack of party unity were clearly on display recently when Republicans were able to exploit a split between Obama and Senate Democrats over student loan legislation.

Among Republicans, disagreements over foreign policy and national security are “normal, kind of an ideological contest that’s been with the party in the 20th century and will be in the 21st,” said McCain, referring to an isolationist strain within the GOP that last flourished decades ago.

In the case of government surveillance, Republicans who might have swallowed their misgivings when President George W. Bush was in the White House are freer to express them.

Elected in 2010, Paul has been sharply critical of widespread National Security Agency surveillance in the wake of recent disclosures. But so, too, has Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a 35-year veteran of Congress.

He sided with Amash and others in both parties recently in voting to restrict the NSA’s activities. Sensenbrenner noted that he was the principal author of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act, first passed in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks, and worked to reapprove the measure five years later.

Now, he said, the NSA is conducting surveillance far beyond what was envisioned, and “the time has come to stop it.”

Once again, one Republican pleaded with others to think back only a few years. “Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we’ve forgotten what happened on Sept. 11,” asked Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The disagreements extend beyond the Beltway.

Paul and Christie recently engaged in a running battle that befits a pair of rivals for the presidential nomination — which they may someday be.

They warmed up with a spat over national security, then moved on to spending.

Paul referred to the costs of repairing damage caused by Superstorm Sandy last fall, and said Christie and GOP Rep. Peter King of New York “are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.”

Two days later, Christie said he had “nothing personal” against Paul, then unloaded.

“I find it interesting that Sen. Paul is accusing us of having a ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’ attitude toward federal spending when in fact New Jersey is a donor state and we get 61 cents back on every dollar we send to Washington. Interestingly, Kentucky gets $1.51 on every dollar they send to Washington,” he said.

“So if Sen. Paul wants to start looking at where he’s going to cut spending to afford defense, maybe he should start looking at the pork barrel spending he brings home to Kentucky.”

Pork?

Paul evidently prefers a different breakfast portion.

The following day, he called Christie the “king of bacon.”

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
    The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing anniversary

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

  • ‘Obamacare’ under attack as conservatives eye 2016

    Republicans eyeing the 2016 White House race battered President Barack Obama’s health care law and nicked each other Saturday, auditioning before a high-profile gathering of conservatives that some political veterans said marked the campaign’s unofficial start.

    April 13, 2014

  • Finance officials: Global economy turns the corner

    The world’s top finance officials expressed confidence Saturday that the global economy finally has turned the corner to stronger growth. This time, they may be right.
    Despite challenges that include market jitters about the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying slowdown and global tensions over Ukraine, policymakers said they believe there is a foundation for sustained growth that can provide jobs for the millions of people still looking for work five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    April 13, 2014

  • There’s a new ‘face,’ but old problems for health care law

    Abruptly on the spot as the new face of “Obamacare,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell faces steep challenges, both logistical and political.
    Burwell, until now White House budget director, was named by President Barack Obama on Friday to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the messy rollout of the health care overhaul.

    April 12, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads