You could see the mischievous delight in John A. Boehner’s face as soon as he heard the question Thursday.
Did he, the speaker of the House, have any idea how his Republican counterpart in the Senate was going to corral enough Republicans to support a plan that keeps the Department of Homeland Security funded?
“No,” Mr. Boehner said, shrugging his shoulders. Then, he grinned as he contemplated the task that faced Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “He’s got a tough job over there. I’ve got a tough job over here. God bless him and good luck.”
Now that they control both houses of Congress, Republicans are beginning to learn the limits of their newfound power. For the third day in a row, Senate Republicans called a vote on a bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded. And for the third time, it failed to clear a Democratic filibuster.
The problems were old and new: political divisions within the party, difficulties over managing the expectations of conservative lawmakers, and the simple arithmetic of getting to the filibuster-proof threshold of 60 votes when there are only 54 Republican senators. The tactics that had served them well when they were in the minority were now being effectively exploited against them.