When Pope Francis came to visit Congress, everyone knew something big was going to happen. Causing Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to have an epiphany and resign was not on anyone’s list.
But, there you have it – a Pope that works strange miracles.
To say that in the aftermath all Hell will break loose depends on whether your definition of Hell is complete inaction (it probably should be). By that standard Congress has been deep in the fire for a long time so we can’t blame Boehner for seeking a cool escape once he was touched by His Holiness. But is there a way out for the rest of us?
In most of the world, the one thing we can be sure of is constant change. In the US House, we have come to rely on inaction in the face of change as Speaker Boehner stood resolutely in charge of a body too fractured to do anything. As comedian Dave Allen observed, “When you’re up to your bottom lip in muck, there is only one rule – don’t make waves.”
A big wave is about to come through the US House as Boehner faces a serious challenge from the Tea Party wing of the party. So far, two Representatives, Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) have announced they are challenging him. How exactly it will shake out is anyone’s guess, but something is about to happen. Make popcorn.
It was a tough election for Democrats. Welcome to a roughly biennial tradition of recapping where my party is falling down – and what we need to do to pick up the pieces.
This is clearly a work of opinion, but it will be as informed as possible. Naturally, you may disagree and have your own additions. Please, by all means, this has to be a conversation about the future – of our party and our nation.
Will the Senate go Republican? Nearly everyone believes it is likely, and has for a long time. It’s hard to see how that will be any different from today, given the ability to filibuster absolutely anything in that body.
Beyond Democrats and Republicans, there is a third option that is growing – some kind of independent fueled chaos and perhaps a heavy dose of Joe Biden in the works. The possibilities are absolutely delicious for many reasons. Not only would it give us all something to write about, a Senate in chaos would probably more accurately reflect the mood of the nation. Here’s how it goes.
Eric Cantor’s primary loss may have been the shock that finally changes everything. That’s an awful lot to ask, but the early signs are that the various forms of establishment in politics and media were caught completely off guard. The response so far has been careful and even intelligent as the constantly wagging tongues have stopped long enough to give more thoughtful voices an opening.
Whether or not there is a permanent change remains to be seen. But the easy explanations quickly sank from their own weight while something that usually lurks much deeper is floating to the surface. If we can change the conversation, we can change the politics. Crossies?
What would it take to end the shutdown or, more importantly, raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid default? As polling shows that this tactic (not strategy!) has proven to be a terrible disaster for the Republican Party it would seem reasonable that there are enough votes in the House to pass a “Clean CR” or bill to fund the federal government and reopen everything. CNN has polled the membership and found that indeed if the Senate bill was introduced on the floor of the US House it would pass rather easily with bipartisan support.
So why doesn’t a vote come up? House rules normally allow any Representative to bring a bill from the Senate with differences from the House directly onto the floor for a vote. But in a highly unusual parliamentary maneuver the House simply changed the rules to take that out of the hands of any member and put it exclusively in the hands of Eric Cantor (R-VA). And so it stands that he is the only person in the US right now that can end this standoff.
If you listen carefully in Washington, you can hear the tiny whooshing sound that dice make when they are up in the air. The difference is that when politicians throw them you hear a lot more bluster and babbling.
Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is up for re-election in 2014, and he knows just how the next 18 months are going to go for his re-election plans. It’s a steady diet of scandals and a call to repeal “Obamacare”. He told the Washington Post, “I was in favor of repealing Obamacare long before the IRS scandal,” he said. “It’s the single worst piece of legislation in a long time.” McConnell added that the health-care law “has an overwhelming likelihood of being the most important issue of fall of 2014 campaign.”
We’ve already discussed how ridiculous the scandal-mongering is, but what if Obamacare actually works? That’s not an idle question, either, because there is considerable evidence that it will work – for very conservative, Republican reasons. And at least one key Republican has admitted as much.