As the most unproductive congressional year in recent history winds down, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be under tremendous pressure to pass an omnibus spending package that keeps the federal government open beyond Dec. 8, when the current funding authority expires. With a 239 member majority, Republicans should not need any help from Democrats to pass this bill. Yet, if anything has been made clear over the past ten months, it is the utter inability of Republicans and their president to lead. Republicans currently control all branches of government, including both houses of Congress. Under normal circumstances, this would mean a strong, unified collective governing body. But these aren’t normal circumstances and, so far this year, Republicans have needed significant help from House Democrats to pass funding legislation to keep the government open.
If Speaker Ryan does not call a vote on the DREAM Act (H.R. 3440) as a standalone bill, which would pass with bipartisan support, then he has two ways to approach the pending funding vote. First, he can choose to coalesce his Republican colleagues, including the extreme factions, and enact a hardline budget that drastically cuts funding for essential programs, all while attempting to increase funding for the unpopular border wall. With this, the Speaker would appease a small group of lawmakers at the expense – literally – of most Americans, which is a huge risk that would place Republicans in a difficult position heading into an election year.