Their near sweep in the mid-term election has generated a lot of speculation about the impact of a Republican majority in the House and Senate for the first time since 2006. Will Mitch McConnell and John Boehner lead a unified, purposeful GOP and move major legislation smoothly through the legislative process? Could there even be attempts to work with Democrats and demonstrate to the American people that Congress is still functional?
Or will conservative and ultraconservative Republicans continue to fight each other to lead the flock? Will they expend so much energy fighting that they accomplish nothing? Will today's congressional Republicans suffer the same fate as the prehistoric Foop bird?
Paleo-ornithological research tells us that when confronted by a threat, the prehistoric Foop bird would squawk loudly and begin to fly at an ever increasing speed in ever decreasing circles until it flew up its own butt and completely disappeared, scientists suspect, with a sort of "foop" sound. As a result of this peculiar behavior, the poor Foop birds eventually disappeared and the species is apparently extinct.
The continuing problem for Republicans in the House and Senate is that their ultra-conservative brethren and sistern wield power and influence far disproportionate to their numbers. Though they're actually a minority of the Republican Conference, they've scared the hell out of the rest by defeating some of the more moderate members for re-election and making other mainstream R's sweat and spend millions to hold on. The whole process achieved its intended goal: it's pushed most mainstream Republicans so far to the right, their immediate reaction to nearly anything is to squawk loudly and fly at an ever increasing speed.
Yet there continues to be disagreement between Republicans who want to govern and Republicans who want to not govern. Those who want to govern realize that allowing -- much less forcing -- the government to shut down, with all the attendant mess and disruption to people's lives, does not amuse most Americans. If there was a real lesson in the fact that the 2014 mid-term election attracted the fewest voters since 1942, it was that the public is pretty much disgusted with both sides. It was hardly an endorsement of narrow ideology, irrational suspicion and obstruction.
Despite the far right's relatively small size, Republican leaders in both houses continue to kowtow to them. As a result, we'll apparently see a ninth investigation of the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. We could see new investigations into IRS scrutiny of conservative and liberal 501(c) (4) tax exempt "social welfare" organizations uncovered in May 2013. We may hear more about the Operation Fast and Furious, a badly bungled "Gun Walking" operation launched in 2009 by the Phoenix field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). We may see anything but a willingness to work with other elected members of Congress to address serious issues that exist today.
There's certainly been a great deal of squawking about President Obama's executive action to prevent the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are the parents of children born in the U.S. and therefore American citizens. The president's action is a small part of comprehensive immigration legislation passed by the Senate with Republican support more than a year ago, but which has never even received a vote in the House.
And of course, there's a lot of squawking about the administration's decision to delay implementing employer mandate provisions in the Affordable Healthcare Act for a year, even though Republicans hate every dot and squiggle in the Affordable Healthcare Act and have voted dozens of times in the House to repeal the whole thing.
In fact, the executive action on deportation and the delay of the employer mandate in health care are included in the Bill of Particulars in the Impeachment of Barack Obama, along with IRS scrutiny of tax exempt political groups, the Benghazi attack and the Fast and Furious debacle.
These issues, rather than minor details like the U.S. Government's 2015 Budget and funding operations against ISIS and Ebola, seem to be the focus of Republicans in Congress. Ever decreasing circles.
In the new session of Congress, if Republican majorities in the House and Senate continue to focus only on ever decreasing issues and begin to fly at an ever increasing speed, like the prehistoric Foop bird, they may fly up their own butts and completely disappear. Foop.