Collins shows House Republicans what it means to govern responsibly
Good for Chris Collins. The congressman from Clarence was one of only 75 Republicans to vote to fund the Department of Homeland Security rather than hold a critical governmental office hostage to a suicide charge against President Obama’s administrative orders on immigration.
“I came here to govern,” Collins said Tuesday. “I didn’t come here to lurch from crisis to crisis.”
With that, Collins demonstrated to anyone paying attention that it is possible to be simultaneously conservative and responsible, a point he alluded to in observing that, “It’s just the wrong thing to do” to shut down the DHS “in this dangerous age.” And he added: “I would be somewhat befuddled why anyone would vote against this.”
Yet, most Republicans did vote against it. Only with the support of the House’s minority Democrats did the measure pass. And that at a time when foreign terrorists are calling for lone-wolf attacks in the United States and when ISIS is beheading Americans and burning other captives alive. Befuddling hardly begins to describe it.
Yet, Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, following the irresponsible course he set last year, voted against the motion. In that, he was one of only two New York Republicans to turn their backs on a critical government function – and to do so for no sensible purpose.
Tea party types have sought to defund the department because they are purple-faced over Obama’s orders on immigration. But there are two big problems with that: One, the matter is already being litigated, and, two, the funding measure has no impact on Obama’s orders, since those costs are funded by fees.
So, in the end, Reed and Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island were the only New York Republicans – indeed, the only New Yorkers – to vote against funding a department whose job is, among other things, to protect international terrorism’s No. 1 target, New York City.
It’s hard to see this as a vote of conscience, easy to understand it as grandstanding for the home folks. Regardless, these representatives let down their country and their state. And it’s not the first time for Reed, who voted twice last year to shut down the government. He is fast showing himself as unworthy of the high office with which voters have entrusted him.
Fortunately, Speaker John Boehner came to his senses and allowed a vote, powering the measure through with the unanimous support of House Democrats and those 75 Republicans. Responsible Republicans, who had promised to show the country they could be trusted to govern, could only breathe a sigh of relief, but damage had already been done.
The measure of that damage was reflected in the comments of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said, “We’re very proud of the vote that happened today.” She meant she was proud that her party, even in the minority, played a key role in ensuring the country would remain protected, but when pride is borne of an act as rudimentary as not shutting down a critical department, government has gone awry.
Stay tuned. More votes are coming, on a highway bill, the debt ceiling and government funding for the next fiscal year. We’ll see if a lesson has been learned.