All the evidence suggests that the Bush Administration now has an all-out rebellion on its hands from the GOP Congress. This is not isolated in any single issue, such as the ports deal, but in fact extends to that and numerous other issues as well. Republican congressmen are tired of being bullied and ignored by a heavy-handed executive, and they are playing hardball with their President. Given his unpopularity, many of them find it useful to distance themselves from Bush anyway.
In short, Bush has little leverage left within his own party, and his transformation to lame-duck status is all but complete. On all sides, conservative Republicans are working against him. The biggest visible difference between their conduct and that of a Democratic Congress is that they have not begun impeachment proceedings.
This is the clearest example of Bush’s problems with his erstwhile allies. Republican Congressmen feel that Bush is wholly responsible for his current mess over a deal giving a Dubai-based company control of portions of key American ports. Bush, they feel, got himself into this mess when he cut Congressional Republicans out of the equation and kept them in the dark—and now Bush can get himself out of it as far as they’re concerned.
Adding insult to injury, language de-funding the ports deal will be written into the upcoming emergency supplemental. This would be some real intra-party hardball—Bush would have to veto funding for Katrina, homeland security and the troops, or else suffer the undoing of a deal he has promised will go forward.
Another Republican rebellion is breaking out on the budget front, where independent-minded Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is taking on the administration for its budgeting proposal. Bush’s budget zeroes out the so-called “Crime Victims Fund,” which is funded through criminal fines, fees and forfeitures, and thus pays for itself. Coburn is accusing the administration of playing a “budget shell game” by zeroing out the fund in order to make room for more spending elsewhere, but planning to restore the fund later.
Coburn’s hearings, set for today, will include a victim of the
Another rebellion lies here, headed mostly by
The episode demonstrates the enduring hostility of the
Bearing this in mind, the administration’s inert posture and opacity with respect to the Katrina rebuilding process is all the more baffling. The White House has done little to get its act together and work with members of Congress on the reconstruction, making the President even more of a target for hostile journalists. Moreover, through its curious inflexibility and inaction, the White House has again incurred the wrath of conservative Republicans in
President Bush’s visit to Katrina-ravaged
The simplistic analysis following Katrina predicted that the evacuation of Democratic-voting blacks would turn
Continued mismanagement has resulted in outrageous spending patterns, beginning with the ridiculous prices—far above the price of actual cruises—the government paid in order to house Katrina refugees aboard cruise ships. Even more outrageous, the reported minimum cost of the trailers intended to be used as temporary housing is $60,000 per unit—enough to build permanent modular housing. And it has proven extremely difficult to get the trailers to needy evacuees, so that many of them still lie idle.
Louisianans are also upset at the “hazard mitigation” program, by which the government would pay homeowners not to rebuild on supposedly flood-vulnerable land—using a generous definition of “flood-vulnerable.” The White House explained to Baker that this provision was inserted to make members of Congress happy. No one seems happy with it at the moment.