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Don’t screw this up, Senate tells House

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Senate Republicans have a message for House Republicans: Don’t screw up before Election Day.

After fumbling primaries in the past, the GOP believes it will win a majority in the upper chamber this fall — as long as the party can avoid self-inflicted wounds.

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To do that, Senate Republicans want their colleagues in the lower chamber to play ball and not hand Democrats anything that could turn out the opposition’s base or turn off independent voters.

Senate Republicans have put subtle pressure on House members to avoid a messy fight over the border bill, impeachment or a government shutdown. Democrats have recently used the latter two gleefully for fundraising.

“I think the Democrats are looking for every opportunity to change the subject to something more advantageous for them,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (S.D.) said. “We have to be smart about how we respond to things that they put forward.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) has warned that Republicans could try to provoke another government shutdown in the fall or impeach President Obama.

Veteran Senate Republicans say GOP colleagues on the other side of the Capitol should not take the bait, nor should firebrands in their own conference. 

“They’re saying, ‘Let’s not make any stupid mistakes here.’ That’s the message that moves back and forth, generally. ‘Let’s not undermine our candidates out there,’” Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah) said. 

Senate Republicans think House Republicans keep fueling the fire. 

Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoTo end sugar subsidies, conservatives can't launch a frontal attack Fierce battle erupts over releasing intelligence report Trouble brewing as GOP struggles with spending bill votes MORE (R-Fla.), for example, recently argued that the House should pass legislation to secure the southern border and move to impeach Obama if he failed to enforce it.

“It is a conversation that we shouldn’t even be having. If people are worried about the future of this country, we’ve got a couple of ways to address that. We can start by fixing the Senate, we can start by having a majority in there that is really ready to govern,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Alaska) said.

Senate Republicans failed to take back the majority in 2010 and 2012, though in both cases they could blame Senate Republican candidates, not House Republicans.

Murkowski acknowledged GOP hopes were dashed by ill-advised comments from Senate candidates backed by the Tea Party in Missouri and Indiana, where Republicans lost seemingly winnable races.

“It was just two years ago that we were hopeful about the Republicans’ opportunities to regain the majority in the Senate, and that didn’t come to fruition because [of] things that were said by candidates who were not the best or most articulate spokesmen, and we lost it,” Murkowski continued. 

Senate Republicans in the past have also pointed fingers at one another.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas) led the effort last fall to use the threat of a government shutdown to end funding for ObamaCare. Republicans ended up in full retreat after that battle, after their approval ratings nosedived.

Cruz is now calling on House Republicans to oppose their leadership’s bill to address the border crisis. He met with 11 rank-and-file House members on Wednesday night.

House GOP leaders would love to see the Senate in Republican hands next year and have sought to contain their conference.

A number of Senate Republicans want the House to pass the bill.

“This whole idea that the president just puts a blank check out there is designed to get Republicans to say no and then paint Republicans as being coldhearted,” said Thune, referring to Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency spending for the southern border.

Thune said Republicans shouldn’t rubber-stamp Obama’s request but argued that the House GOP should pass something to show they want to address the problem.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Ohio) on Tuesday tamped down brewing anxiety over impeachment talk when he declared it a nonstarter and a “scam” concocted by Democrats. 

One Republican senator who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the GOP leadership speculated that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) has likely reminded BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE that polarizing action by House conservatives could reverberate in November.

When Congress comes back in September, many Senate Republicans hope the House will reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, to rebut Democratic criticism that the GOP is purely obstructionist.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) urged colleagues at a Republican Senate Steering Committee meeting Wednesday to support the House’s $659 million emergency border bill, according to a GOP source familiar with the meeting.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine) said it “would be helpful” if the House were to pass a border bill, and also called on the lower chamber to extend Ex-Im, which is due to expire at the end of September.

So did Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (R-Tenn.).

 “I think they ought to deal with it,” he said. “I’ll read [the reauthorization] and decide what reforms need to be added to it.”

And Senate Republicans have no interest in any kind of fight over funding the government in September, when Congress will need to move legislation to prevent another shutdown.

 “I don’t think anybody in their right mind wants to do that again,” Hatch said of a shutdown.