A divided GOP will fall

Buy a ticket and have a seat — the curtain is up on the GOP’s implosion as high-profile Republicans considered future leaders and presidential contenders insult and accuse each other, hurling enough cable news kindling around to not only break through the story of Anthony Weiner’s self-immolation but to make President Obama look like the grown-up heading into the budget battle this fall. This was no easy feat.

Forget conservative revolts on the farm bill or immigration reform; after a season of legislative avoidance, Congress will return in September to face deadlines for funding the government and raising the debt ceiling on which GOP division is nearly as stark as the divide between the two parties. What’s more, recent disagreements on national security policy have now split Republicans into two camps of hawks and doves.

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Would that this were some run-of-the-mill spat between Tea Party Republicans and an outlier like Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE. But Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senator asks to be taken off Moore fundraising appeals Red state lawmakers find blue state piggy bank Prosecutors tell Paul to expect federal charges against attacker: report MORE (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are lambasting each other in personal terms as Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky MORE and his top staff insult establishment senators like Tom CoburnTom CoburnFormer GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder Lobbying World -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground MORE (Okla.) and criticize the entire House Republican Conference. The conservative-on-conservative take-down is so toxic it has some Republicans longing for the days of responding to kooky criticisms from former Sen. Jim DeMint. 

It was Christie who first took a swipe at freshman Sens. Paul and Cruz several days ago to separate himself from “the strain of libertarianism” in foreign policy he believes is “dangerous.” Paul hit back and accused Christie of a “gimme, gimme, gimme” posture on spending that prompted the governor to note that Kentucky receives $1.50 for every dollar it receives from the federal government compared to the 60 cents New Jersey receives. Paul then called Christie “the King of Bacon” and warned “it’s not helping the party for him to pick a war with me.”

Meanwhile, Congress departs days from now for a five-week recess, during which time they are expected to somehow find consensus on how to proceed with the coming spending battle this fall. Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Health Care: Trump officials to allow work requirements for Medicaid GOP senator: CBO moving the goalposts on ObamaCare mandate Cornyn: Senate GOP tax plan to be released Thursday MORE (R-Utah) is circulating a petition, which notables like Cruz and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Cornyn: Senate GOP tax plan to be released Thursday This week: GOP seeks to advance tax overhaul MORE (R-Fla.) signed on to, declaring that no spending bill should be approved to fund the government if it includes spending for ObamaCare. Republicans worried about this strategy — for which the party will likely be blamed in a shutdown after the president vetoes the bill to defund his signature accomplishment — are calling it everything from “silly” to “political suicide.” They include Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntWe must fund community health centers now Overnight Tech: Senators demand tech firms do more on Russian meddling | House Intel releases Russian-promoted ads | Apple CEO says 'fake news' bigger threat than ads | Ex-Yahoo CEO, Equifax execs to testify on breaches Facebook: Clinton, Trump campaigns spent a combined M on ads MORE (Mo.), McCain, Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrJuan Williams: The shame of Trump's enablers Five takeaways from the social media hearings Overnight Tech: Senators demand tech firms do more on Russian meddling | House Intel releases Russian-promoted ads | Apple CEO says 'fake news' bigger threat than ads | Ex-Yahoo CEO, Equifax execs to testify on breaches MORE (N.C.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTax Foundation: Senate reform bill would cost 6B GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage MORE (Tenn.), who are now, according to Cruz’s staff, members of the “surrender caucus.” Cruz himself has dismissed as “cocktail chatter” this notion that a government shutdown will come back to haunt Republicans, and is seeking to counter what he called “a powerful, defeatist approach among Republicans in Washington.”

Some 60 House Republicans have signed a similar measure and are pressing House leadership — which had other ideas in mind — to climb aboard. These lawmakers are of course being goaded by Cruz, who is mocking their “empty, symbolic” votes to repeal ObamaCare. 

While Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThe two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election White House strikes back at Bushes over legacy MORE (R-Ohio) conspicuously dodges any commitment to the plan, it’s not so easy for Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.). The Senate minority leader now faces a conservative challenger in his GOP primary and is under pressure to sign on to the Cruz Crusade because his opponent, Matt Bevin, already has. In order to win in 2014, McConnell might not be able to govern. But in order to win the White House in 2016, at least one Republican will most certainly have to be willing to govern instead of putting on skits. Being a grown-up will help, too.


Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.