Eric Cantor's got a problem. He said so himself, right in front of the TV cameras.
Eric Cantor is -- for those of you who don't keep track of such things, i.e., for those of you who have what we'll call "a life" -- a congressperson from Virginia. A Republican congressperson, to be precise about it, and the newly installed Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.
That's right: Eric Cantor -- despite his problem -- is a member of the GOP leadership team in the House. He is not known as the brains of that team. He is, however, clearly its smirk.
And there he was on Wednesday, smirking for the cameras even as he revealed his problem. This was the very day, you'll recall, that Mr. Cantor's Republican colleagues in the House voted to repeal health-care reform, one of the signature accomplishments of the Obama administration's first two years. Voted to repeal it, and replace it with... with...
They'll get back to you on that.
The main thing is that they voted for a do-over -- every single Republican, and even three Democrats. And now it's on to the Senate, where the "Let's Pretend It Never Happened Act of 2011" will almost certainly die a quick death. Or a slow death. But a death one way or the other, because the Democrats still hold the majority in the Senate, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has promised he won't even bring the do-over to the Senate floor.
And that's where Eric Cantor has his problem.
"I've got a problem," he said on Wednesday, "with the assumption here that somehow the Senate can be a place for legislation to go into a cul-de-sac or a dead end. Leader Reid continues to say that he is not going to bring this up for a vote in the Senate. The American people deserve a full hearing. They deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote."
Apparently Eric Cantor doesn't get out much. Apparently Eric Cantor has never met Mitch McConnell.
Mitch McConnell is the Republican leader in the Senate. Mitch McConnell has spent the past two years doing everything he could to make the Senate -- what was that line again? -- "a place for legislation to go into a cul-de-sac or a dead end."
Over the past two years, Mitch McConnell and his merry minority band of GOP senators have brought the Senate to a standstill every chance they got. They used filibusters, and the threat of filibusters, and secret "holds," to throttle legislation, to bottle up nominations. To keep important matters from getting "a full hearing" -- or any hearing at all. To keep those important matters from coming to a vote.
That's right: Time after time, on issue after issue, Republicans built the cul-de-sac. Republicans bricked up the dead end.
Eric Cantor didn't have a problem then -- but he's got one now. Or so he says, without the slightest hint of embarrassment.
Maybe he's the gall bladder of the team.
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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