New Party in Charge, Same Challenges

WASHINGTON — The tense meltdown in the House on Friday over funding for the Department of Homeland Security underscores how Congress has lost the ability to perform its most basic functions no matter which party is in charge.

The outcome — conservative House Republicans initially defeated a stop-gap plan to fund the department for three weeks to prevent a politically risky shutdown of the agency — threatens to quickly tarnish Republican claims to sound management of Congress.

The immediate crisis ended late Friday when the House and Senate passed a one-week extension of the security funding, keeping the agency open until lawmakers can revisit the fight next week. But defeat of the initial bill and the way the fight played out diminished hopes for much progress in the months ahead despite the approach of multiple legislative deadlines and crucial issues.

Adding to the pessimism was the fact that House Republicans on Friday had to pull back an education bill that also ran into trouble from conservatives, the third piece of legislation this year that House Republicans had to scuttle temporarily because of internal divisions. If Republicans cannot agree among themselves, what are the chances of finding consensus with Democrats?

“All I can say is, do we deliver at the end of the day, did we get through this mess?” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “Did we get the D.H.S. department funded? Do we do the appropriation bills? Do we pass a budget? If we can do all these things, we’ll have an accomplishment to show.”

And if they don’t, they will be judged accordingly.

A version of this news analysis appears in print on February 28, 2015, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: New Party in Charge, Same Challenges. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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