The Senate Republicans’ Latest Disgrace

by Jeremy Carl

To nobody’s surprise, the Lee amendment to defund the Obama administration’s radical Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule (AFFH) (a rule that essentially turns the federal government into a national zoning board, forcing high-density housing on unwilling cities and towns while letting bureaucrats decide the racial, ethnic, and income balance of local communities) was tabled by a vote of 60–37 today, marking a defeat for conservatism, community control, and common sense. 

Meanwhile Susan Collins’s fig-leaf amendment that pretends to stop AFFH’s war on the suburbs passed 87–9. It’s the sort of depressing scene we’ve become accustomed to in the McConnell-led Senate. Heritage Action Scorecard “key voted” the Lee amendment (and in the process, proved again why it is the gold standard of conservative rating systems). Little surprise that of Heritage’s 10 worst-scoring Republican senators, only one (Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia) voted for the Lee amendment, while their top 23 scoring senators all voted for Lee.

What’s more mystifying and discouraging about this is the utter political stupidity of the tactics employed by the GOP Senate leadership. Not only does it deprive the party of a great short-term issue, but of a long-term one as well — and one that would have paid both policy and political dividends. When communities better understand what AFFH allows, it is going to be absolutely toxic to everyone who voted for it — or at least it would have been if McConnell hadn’t allowed Democrats to take political cover with the Collins amendment. The Collins amendment passed with the only nine votes against being Democrats from Senate jurisdictions so liberal that they could afford to say even the Collins non-concession was insufficient. So Senator McConnell managed to give the Democrats a fig leaf hid their vote for this monstrosity.

Meanwhile the Lee amendment, which had, at least in theory, the support of all but 16 members of the GOP’s 54-member conference, including all of the GOP’s conservative senators, garnered only GOP votes. Not a single Democrat joined them. McConnell once again worked with a rump faction of liberal Republicans to stop a conservative amendment. (Don’t be fooled by the fact that McConnell voted for the Lee amendment — he, and probably some others in the “yes’ camp, were just giving themselves political cover. If McConnell had actually wanted the Lee amendment, the Collins amendment would never have seen the light of day.)

For what it’s worth, the following 16 GOP Senators voted for the Obama administration’s war on the suburbs. It’s a largely predictable list:

Alexander
Ayotte
Blunt
Burr
Coats
Cochran
Collins
Graham
Hatch
Hoeven
Isakson
Kirk
McCain
Murkowski
Portman
Tillis

Giving political cover to Democrats. Bowing to the dictates of the most liberal members of the caucus. Splitting the party. It’s what the GOP leadership does so expertly. And yet again, they’ve outdone themselves.

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