In June, when Bakersfield congressman Kevin McCarthy was elected by his peers to replace outgoing Eric Cantor as majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, we challenged McCarthy to show some leadership befitting his status a rising star in one half of an often-ridiculed, "do-nothing" Congress.
It didn't take long for McCarthy to get that opportunity.
During a roller-coaster day on Capitol Hill -- and on the eve of McCarthy's swearing in to his new post -- Republican House members canceled a vote on their own funding bill, a measure which would have allocated $659 million to help deal with an influx of Central American immigrants along the U.S.'s southern border, due to lack of support.
Then, fittingly, they shuffled off to start a five-week vacation.
But as representatives made for the exits, McCarthy reportedly made for a microphone. According to Fox News, McCarthy sprung into action, taking to the floor to announce that "additional votes are possible."
"Boos could be heard in the House chamber as he made the announcement," Fox reported.
House Republican leaders were scheduled to meet again Friday morning to hash out a new plan. Apparently some members of Congress, for once, were having reservations about jetting off on a recess with such a pressing issue unsolved. House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., was quoted Thursday as saying, "We'll stay until we vote."
Earlier in the day, however, it had seemed like more of the same from the House.
The emergency border spending bill was presented in conjuction with a separate vote that would have prevented President Obama from taking executive action to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants brought to the states as children. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz -- that's right, a U.S. senator, not a representative -- convinced House GOP leaders the additional measure was needed to ensure enough conservative Republicans would vote for the border-funding bill, which House Democrats had said they would oppose.
McCarthy and House Speaker John Boehner should know better than to let Cruz into their house. He so often leaves muddy footprints.
Admittedly, even if the border bill had passed the House, Obama probably would veto it, as it falls well short of the $3.7 billion he's requested to shore up the crisis. The Democrat-held Senate is weighing its own $2.7 billion measure to deal with the crisis.
If Congress does end up passing some measure, it'll almost assuredly be better than the status quo. It's a better route than putting it all on Obama to clean the mess himself.
Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed into the U.S. A report by Reuters news service projects the total to rise to as high as 90,000 by the end of next month. The reality is evident: Republicans simply cannot tell Obama to go it alone on the border crisis and then refuse to fund the very resources he would need to fight the problem.
It's here that another leadership opportunity arises for McCarthy: Tell his fellow House GOP'ers to stop kowtowing to distractions, such as divisive, crossover poison from figures like Cruz. House Republicans have a chance to show the country -- and their constituents back home -- that they can respond to problems. And McCarthy has a chance to show them how. It's a small sample size, sure. But it looks like an encouraging start.