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July 28, 2022 5:42 p.m.

The modern GOP’s sheer level of political cynicism is simply remarkable. I noted this morning that in retaliation for Dems outwitting Mitch McConnell with their climate bill, House Republicans voted against the semiconductors bill most of them actually support. In the event, 24 House Republicans bucked their leadership and voted for the bill. All Democrats voted for the bill save for one who voted “present.” Now we hear from Susan Collins that Dems’ legislative coup now likely means Republicans won’t allow a vote on the bill to protect same sex marriage rights. “I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue,” Collins HuffPost, explaining that it will now be much harder for her and other GOP moderates to secure GOP votes.

Politics ain’t beanbag, as they say. Certainly it’s not unknown to condition support for one piece of legislation on the passage or blockage of another. But same sex married couples in the United States should either have protections or they shouldn’t. In the most brass tacks sense Democrats have what they want here. They managed to pass the CHIPS bill which actually has deep bipartisan support. They are also on their way to passing a health care and climate bill, though I would not consider it a done deal until it’s actually a done deal. Killing the marriage bill doesn’t undo either. The Schumer-Manchin compromise may still come apart. But it won’t be because Senate Republicans decided to stick it to same sex couples to make a point. If anything, it is likely a marginal political advantage for Democrats to be able to take the issue to the voters in November. Republicans’ move really amounts to saying, “Don’t screw with us. Because we’ll hurt people if you do.”

There is a revealing assumption in our current politics, widespread and bipartisan though not often stated in so many words, that it is up to Democrats to handle things that are in the normal course of decency or responsibility. Republicans need to get something in return. That, after all, was what so many legislative hostage takings and debt ceiling dramas have been about. This sounds on its face like the kind of overheated partisan rhetoric one often hears from both sides of the political aisle about the other. But this one is really true. Not a few Republicans really believe that same sex marriages are wrong or at least shouldn’t be put on an equal par by the state with opposite sex marriages. But clearly at least ten Republicans don’t believe that and would have been fine with allowing this bill to pass. But now that may be off because of this climate bill. The CHIPS bill itself is hardly something that excited progressive partisans. It’s more about macroeconomics and reducing U.S. dependency on China, both in economic and national security terms. But Republicans were ready to scuttle it unless Democrats agreed not to pass completely unrelated legislation with their own votes.

That’s just how it is. That’s how they operate.

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