By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press
02/28/2015 – 4:54 AM


Two months into full Republican control of Congress, GOP leaders are struggling to demonstrate they really are in charge.

The stunning House defeat Friday of a three-week spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security exposed Speaker John Boehner’s weakness in the face of rebellious conservatives.

It also again demonstrated his need to rely on Democrats at critical moments as the minority party’s agreement to a one-week spending bill helped the speaker get it over the finish line with only hours to spare before a threatened agency shutdown.

President Barack Obama signed the bill shortly before midnight.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to the chamber as the House failed to advance a short-term funding measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded past a midnight deadline, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday evening, Feb. 27, 2015. Conservatives in Speaker Boehner’s own party fought against three-week funding measure because it would not overturn Obama’s actions on immigration. | J. Scott Applewhite AP Photo

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already had bowed to Democrats’ demands and stripped the contentious provisions rolling back Obama’s immigration policies from his chamber’s version of the Homeland Security spending bill.

The two leaders face different, and often competing, challenges as they try to produce the responsible governance they promised voters after November elections, when Republicans won control of the Senate and increased their House majority to the largest in 70 years.

Two months into the new Congress, the severe limits to their powers are confronting Boehner, R-Ohio, and McConnell as they aim to chart a course for the final two years of Obama’s presidency. That path could help lead their party back into the White House, and perhaps even produce a few legislative achievements.

“Obviously we’re not getting good results, are we? I base everything on results,” said Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, one of the many Republicans frustrated with the GOP’s performance, particularly on the Homeland Security bill.

“Our leadership set the stage for this,” Fleming said. “Yet we didn’t really see much messaging, coordination or communication.”

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