Tea party Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, are insisting that Republicans shouldn’t negotiate on the federal budget unless Democrats agree in advance not to try for a rise in the debt ceiling when the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
This triumvirate of the Republican far right seem to have decided that they no longer have any obligation to engage in basic governance of our people through bipartisan negotiations and compromise.
Republican Sen. John McCain said the tea partiers complain that negotiations are “back room dealings” but seem not to realize that whatever agreement is reached has to be passed by both houses of Congress.
Governing won’t happen if the Democrats and Republicans can’t negotiate on legislation.
Tea party conservatives have recently laid out their continuing disinterest in compromise when a coalition of 20 groups of tea partiers sent the following letter urging Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee, to retire: “Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values.”
Regrettably, we have often referred to Congress as a dysfunctional entity because of its members’ inability to negotiate controversial issues with reason and good will.
The tea party conservatives seem determined to provide the philosophical bulwark of the Republican Party, even if it would likely mean the loss of such moderates as Lamar Alexander.
If the tea partiers would become the sole voice of the Republican Party, I fear the result would be the replacement of a dysfunctional Congress with one suffering from a complete paralysis.
- Hopp is from Mason City.