Posts Tagged House
Why are Republicans holding yet another futile, time-wasting and taxpayer-money-wasting Obamcare repeal vote next week? House Speaker John Boehner explains.
70 [sic] 17 new members who have not had an opportunity to vote on the president’s health care law,” Boehner said. “Frankly they’ve been asking for an opportunity to vote on it.”
Well, then. By all means. It’s not like it’s costing American taxpayers something like $1.45 million to have that meaningless vote.
Oh, wait. Yes, it is! It’s exactly like it’s costing us $1.45 million for that repeal vote. Last July, when CBS News tallied it up using the CRS figure of $24 million per work week in the House, they figured that the House had spent 80 hours on 33 repeal votes, for a grand total of $48 million. That’s $1.45 million per vote. There have been another three repeal votes since then, for another $4.4 million to the tally.
So, we’re at a grand total of $52.4 million wasted on futile Obamacare repeal votes, just in the House. And that’s being generous to the Republicans, not counting committee time wasted on this, the opportunity cost of delaying other work, etc. It’s probably a lot closer to $55 million.
And if you ask those 70 new GOP members who are insisting on having their turn to cast a meaningless vote on settled law why they want to be in Congress, they’ll tell you it’s to stop big government from wasting taxpayer dollars.
- Boehner explains why House will waste more time and money on Obamacare repeal (dailykos.com)
- G.O.P. Split Over Whether to Waste Time Investigating Benghazi or Repealing Obamacare : The New Yorker (mbcalyn.com)
- Tell Boehner: Enough already with the damned “Repeal Obamacare” votes; The House is about to vote for the THIRTY-SEVENTH time tomorrow on repealing Obamacare. (sunsetdaily.wordpress.com)
- Boehner Says He Cares About Jobs While Republicans Have Wasted 15 Percent Of House Time On Obamacare (youngprogressivevoices.com)
- GOP SPLIT! : Waste Time on Benghazi or Repealing Obamacare (aapd0418.com)
- House GOP to vote on Obamacare repeal – Vol. 37 (cbsnews.com)
- Since 2011, House GOP has spent 15 percent of its time voting to repeal ‘Obamacare’ (thesunnews.typepad.com)
- Obamacare repeal vote-a-palooza resumes Thursday (dailykos.com)
- G.O.P. Split Over Whether to Waste Time Investigating Benghazi or Repealing Obamacare (newyorker.com)
- House GOP pumped to vote to repeal Obamacare – for the 37th time (tv.msnbc.com)
Mosbacher: I’m Furious at My Own Party
Jan 8, 2013 4:45 AM EST
RNC Finance Committee co-chair Georgette Mosbacher tells Michelle Cottle that she’s “mad as hell” about what Republicans have done to themselves.
Best not to ask GOP fundraising legend Georgette Mosbacher about the state of her beloved party unless you want an earful. The co-chair of the RNC’s Finance Committee (and CEO of Borghese cosmetics), Mosbacher is “mad as hell” about the myriad ways the “brand has been tarnished”: the sorry state of the presidential primary process, the ongoing alienation of Latino voters, the “outrageous” Senate candidates that the party ran this cycle, the epic failure of the fiscal-cliff negotiations, and, most recently, the House’s dithering over disaster aid for the victims of superstorm Sandy.
“I’m angry!” fumes Mosbacher. “I’m angry about the stupid mistakes that were self-inflicted.” It’s this last part she finds the most enraging. Though she believes the party has “unfairly” been defined by its recent mistakes, she is very clear about where the ultimate blame lies: “We did it to ourselves.”
Mosbacher is, of course, not alone in her ire. Postelection, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a hastily assembled group of Republican leaders laboring to figure out where the party went wrong last cycle and how to get it back on track. So far, however, Mosbacher is unimpressed by their efforts.
“I have not seen an honest postmortem assessment yet,” she told me. “I have not seen anything that gives me any comfort right now.”
This is an unfortunate development for the GOP, because, as Mosbacher explained it to me this weekend: “I’m not writing any checks, and I’m not asking anyone else to write any checks until I hear something that makes sense to me.”
The root problem, as she sees it: the sorry state of the party’s leadership in Washington.
Take the implosion of certain Senate candidates, she says. “One or two bad apples—excuse the cliché—really can spoil the whole thing. But it’s incumbent on our leadership to know who those are. Don’t tell me these people didn’t know who they were before they spewed their nonsense.” Mosbacher grows increasingly agitated. “How did they get this far? Where was the leadership to stop that?”
OK. So the party’s finance co-chair is disgusted to the point where she’s threatening to shut off the money spigot. That’s the bad news. Now for the worse news: she is not alone.
As Mosbacher tells it, many of her fellow mega-donors are vowing to sit on their wallets until something changes. “Since the election, there have been a lot of gatherings, a lot of meetings among those who are active in raising money,” she says. “There’s been one every week. There are a lot of us who are saying, ‘Just wait a minute.’”
Mosbacher adds, “The question is, ‘Are we united in drying that up?’ From the people I’ve talked to, the answer is, ‘Yeah.’”
Earlier this month, New York Republican Rep. Peter King caused a stir when, incensed by the House leadership’s refusal to vote on Sandy relief, he publicly called on area voters not to donate to his own party. “The Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars,” raged King. “I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds.”
“I’m not writing any checks, and I’m not asking anyone else to write any checks until I hear something that makes sense to me.”
King’s outburst—closely followed by a similar declaration of war by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—prompted a flurry of news reports about how much the GOP relies on New York funders. (State Republicans gave in the neighborhood of $378 million during the 2012 cycle, putting it No. 2 behind only California.) A scant hour after Christie’s denunciation, House leadership reversed course and scheduled an aid vote.
As far as Mosbacher is concerned, however, the damage was done. While “stupid,” the leadership’s fumble of the Sandy vote “was just that moment in time,” she says. “It only reinforced how angry we are about what they’re doing.”
If anything, says Mosbacher, the episode drove home the impact that New York—which she refers to variously as “the motherlode” and “the golden goose”—can have. “You know how loud we were. Let’s face it, it didn’t take long to turn that one around. It showed that the golden goose does have some pull.”
Now, she says, it’s time to tackle “the bigger issues,” subjects on which she and her fellow donors expect to be heard by party leaders before they hand out any more golden eggs.
“There’s one thing they understand,” she says with the confidence of a woman who has played at the highest level of the game for many years. “They understand money. Politics is about money. Make no mistake. They’re going to have to listen.”
And not merely listen. Mosbacher warns, “They may listen and not act. But that will be risky.”
- Another GOP insider discovers today’s Republican Party sucks (dailykos.com)
- The Road Less Travelled and a tale of the Middle Path (skydancingblog.com)
- Sylvia (arnoldzwicky.wordpress.com)
- Run Wild Missoula offers advanced training class for spring marathoners (missoulian.com)
- Mosbach (confuzzledom.wordpress.com)
- Tea Party pores over setting term limits for Texas politicians (reporternews.com)
- website work (mingissiyeva.com)
- Democrats overtook GOP in 2012 party affiliation: Poll. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- Why things might not be as bad as they look for Republicans – in 3 charts (washingtonpost.com)
- The Three Wise M’s: Marburg, Mannheim, Mosbach. – Marburg, Germany (travelpod.com)
Club for Growth will punish members voting for Sandy flood aid
By Erik Wasson - 01/04/13 09:57 AM ET
The conservative Club for Growth said Friday that it will punish House members who voted for a flood insurance measure aimed at helping pay for Hurricane Sandy’s damage.
The Club will “key-vote” the measure, using it to compile an annual rating for each lawmaker.
The House on Thursday morning approved the $9.7-billion increase in funding for the National Flood Insurance Program. The bill passed easily in a bipartisan 354-67 vote.
It needed a two-thirds vote of the House for approval since it was coming under suspension of rules procedures.
“Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the National Flood Insurance Program’s authority,” a statement from the Club’s Andy Roth said.
An NFIP reform bill was passed with bipartisan support in the last Congress, but some conservatives believe the program should be ended or slowly curtailed.
Supporters of NFIP say that the private marketplace will not offer flood protection to the public at affordable rates, making a government program necessary.
Flood policies are sold by private insurers who often package the policies with other home coverage. The 2012 NFIP reform bill was supported by the insurance industry.
The flood insurance bill, sponsored by New Jersey conservative Rep. Scott Garrett (R), is the first slice of Sandy aid being allowed to come to the floor in the new Congress.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has committed to allowing a $51 billion tranche to come to the floor when the House returns from recess the week after next. Boehner pulled a $60 billion (in total) bill from the floor late on New Year’s Day, provoking angry outbursts from Northeast lawmakers in his own party, who compared it to a stab in the back.
- Right Wing Group Will Punish Republicans Voting for Sandy Flood Aid (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- Club For Growth Will Punish Reps Who Vote For Sandy Aid (alan.com)
- Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – ” Hurricane Sandy Relief: A Flood of Hypocrisy (mbcalyn.com)
- What is wrong with the Republican Party – ‘Club for Growth will punish members voting for Sandy flood aid’ (thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com)
- House votes to expand borrowing authority for Sandy flood claims (nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com)
- More Businesses Seek Government Flood Insurance After Sandy: Marsh (insurancejournal.com)
- House passes $9.7B Sandy relief bill (cbsnews.com)
- Martin Bashir Busts Paul Ryan For Voting ‘No’ On Hurricane Sandy Aid But Yes On Midwest Flood Aid (mediaite.com)
- Sandy Victims in N.J., N.Y., Blast Delays in Flood Insurance Aid (insurancejournal.com)
- Sandy could drain the Sandy Insurance (insurancejournal.com)
Bloomberg by the Numbers: 25%
Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Speaker of the House John Boehner leaves a House Republican Caucus meeting on Jan. 1, 2013 in Washington.
That’s the percentage of Americans who approve of the House speaker’s handling of the fiscal negotiations, according to Gallup.
As the 113th Congress is sworn in today, with Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio standing for re-election as leader of the House, the public’s view of Boehner’s handling of the recently concluded “fiscal cliff” negotiations has not been favorable.
In a mid-December survey by the Gallup organization, just 25 percent of those surveyed said they approved of the job Boehner was doing with the fiscal cliff talks.
Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) Dec. 14-16 gave President Barack Obama a favorable rating for his handling of the fiscal talks.
Those talks ended on New Year’s Day, with congressional passage of a plan that included the income tax increases for the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers that Obama had sought and none of the additional spending cuts that Boehner had sought.
The two will face one another again as Congress nears a debate on raising the federal debt ceiling this winter.
- Obama’s Warning to Boehner Started Road to Budget Plan (bloomberg.com)
- Oil Rises to Three-Month High as U.S. Passes Budget Bill – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Good Riddance to Rottenest Congress in History – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Good Riddance to Rottenest Congress in History (realclearpolitics.com)
- Some urge Boehner: let Dems pass fiscal cliff bill (boston.com)
- Boehner Pressured By Some To Let Democrats Pass Fiscal Cliff Bill (huffingtonpost.com)
- Incoming Texas Rep. Steve Stockman wants Boehner removed as House Speaker (trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com)
- Ezra Klein on the Worst Congress Ever (seniorsforademocraticsociety.wordpress.com)
- The View from the Bottom of a Fiscal Abyss (canadafreepress.com)
- Boehner Says He’ll No Longer Negotiate with Obama (politicalwire.com)
A Washington in need of major repairs
I found myself channeling Stengel last week when, incredibly, John Boehner, speaker of the House and leader of his party, had to abort a vote he himself had called because he lacked sufficient Republican support. This brought a rare expression of sheer wonder from a former Republican speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. “You don’t ever bring something to the floor without the votes,” he told National Journal.
The vote was supposed to be on a tax bill Boehner unironically called Plan B, which, as my colleague Dana Milbank pointed out, is also the name of the morning-after pill. Maybe for that reason — one cannot underestimate the level of stupidity in Washington — 26 Republican members of the House said they would vote no. Boehner thereupon called off the vote and sent the House home for Christmas. Maybe he’ll use the time to learn how to count.
Washington has been reveling in its own history of late. The Senate last week took time off to watch Steven Spielberg’s magnificent “Lincoln.” To Spielberg’s credit, he depicted a president who did more than grandly free the slaves; he got an anti-slavery constitutional amendment through Congress, one recalcitrant member at a time. Lincoln cajoled and arm-twisted and even, we may suppose, bought the occasional vote, not with cash but with jobs and contracts. Few politicians will sell their soul, but they will on occasion sell a vote real cheap, sometimes out of sheer affection for the president.
Abraham Lincoln is Barack Obama’s hero, and the president seemed to invoke Honest Abe when he promised to do something about guns. In the movie, Lincoln says that as a wartime president, he is “clothed in immense power.” Obama said he will “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens” in preventing gun tragedies. The words, the phrasing — all redolent of Lincoln. The outcome, the past being prologue, will not be Lincolnesque. It will be an Obama muddle.
Spielberg knows what Obama does not. His Lincoln is in incessant negotiations with Congress and the rest of the Washington power structure. He does more than make grand speeches. But Obama is a grand speech sort of guy. After his reelection, he said he had won a mandate. He actually hit the road again, asserting a mandate to raise taxes on the rich. He is right to want to do that, but his mandate is chimerical, made of rhetorical filigree that evaporates in the intellectually arid atmosphere of congressional districts that voted tea-party Republican.
Some 15 Republicans won in congressional districts that Obama carried — whose mandate is that, anyway? — and other Republicans triumphed in districts where Obama is considered an alien creature. One of those who refused to support Boehner’s Plan B was Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. He won with — this is no typo — 100 percent of the vote. (He had no Democratic opposition.) Try telling him about mandates.
As it does with Lincoln, Washington now reveres Lyndon Johnson. Much of this is due to Robert A. Caro’s latest volume, “The Passage of Power,” and its tales of how Johnson knew how to squeeze out every last congressional vote. Caro tells how Johnson basted the crusty Sen. Harry Byrd Sr. of Virginia, slathering him in praise and promises that Byrd knew would be redeemed. Johnson won titanic legislative victories, but he did so one vote at a time. He was a creature of Congress. Johnson left the Senate with a gaggle of friends and the experience to change history. Obama served in the Senate too. He just came and went.
Obama and Boehner are co-pilots steering us toward the fiscal cliff. Their respective jobs are beyond them. One talks over the head of Congress, the other called for a vote he couldn’t win. The thing’s on automatic pilot — automatic spending cuts, automatic tax increases: automatic debacle. The stock market fell. Next, jobs will be lost. Boehner went home to Ohio, and the president went to Hawaii for a vacation . . . from what? Only the ghost of Casey Stengel remains in town: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
- Obama Losing Richard Cohen (nationalreview.com)
- BUYER’S REMORSE (CONT’D): Richard Cohen: The President Who Seems Not To Care. “His eloquence, it … (pjmedia.com)
- Lieberman: If We Fall Off Fiscal Cliff, Blame Congress’ Irresponsibility (fox4kc.com)
- Grand Bargain Shrinks as Congress Nears US Budget Deadline – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- A Washington mess (nydailynews.com)
- Ultra-Lib Richard Cohen Eviscerates Obama (rushlimbaugh.com)
- McConnell Pushed Into Fiscal Fight as Congress Faces Deadline (bloomberg.com)
- Now or later, a fiscal cliff deal fixes a self-inflicted problem (cnn.com)
- Boehner Pressured By Some To Let Democrats Pass Fiscal Cliff Bill (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama’s Problem: He Doesn’t Seem to Care (newser.com)
It’s our system on the cliff
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: December 23
The United States faces a crisis in our political system because the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives, is no longer a normal, governing party.
The only way we will avoid a constitutional crackup is for a new, bipartisan majority to take effective control of the House and isolate those who would rather see the country fall into chaos than vote for anything that might offend their ideological sensibilities.
In a democratic system with separated powers, two houses of Congress, split between the parties, a normal party accepts that compromise is the only way to legislate. A normal party takes into account election results. A normal party recognizes when the other side has made real concessions. A normal party takes responsibility.
By all of these measures, the Republican majority that Speaker John Boehner purports to lead is abnormal. That is the meaning of his catastrophic failure to gather the votes for his “Plan B” proposal on the “fiscal cliff.” Many of his most radical members believe they have a right to use any means at their disposal to impose their views on the country, even if they are only a minority in Congress.
There may, however, be good news in the disarray: The right wing of the Republican House has chosen to marginalize itself from any serious negotiations. The one available majority for action, especially on budgets, is a coalition uniting most Democrats with those Republicans who still hold the old-fashioned view that they were elected to help run the country.
To avert a fiscal nightmare in the short run, this potential majority needs to be allowed to work its will. The result may well be a modestly more progressive solution than President Obama offered Boehner, a deal with somewhat fewer cuts and more revenue. That’s the price the right wing will have to pay for refusing to govern.
This is almost exactly what happened in 1990, when the most conservative Republicans rejected a deficit-reduction agreement negotiated by President George H.W. Bush and Democrats in Congress. After a conservative rebellion brought the initial bill down, a more progressive measure was enacted with more Democratic votes.
In the longer run, the non-tea party wing of the GOP will have to decide whether it wants to be subject to the whims of colleagues to their right or look to the center for alliances with the Democrats. The choice is plain: We can spend two years doing absolutely nothing, or we can try to solve the country’s problems. This includes the problem of gun violence, and the question is whether the GOP will reject the tone-deaf extremism of NRA chief Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre response to the killings in Newtown, Conn.
Our political structure has been disfigured in another way: In November’s election, Democrats failed to win the House even though they received about a million more votes in House contests than the Republicans did. Republicans were protected by gerrymandered districts and by political geography: Democrats tend to win urban and certain suburban districts by overwhelming margins.
In Pennsylvania, to pick a stark case, Democrats edged out the Republicans in the popular vote for House races. But given how the districts were drawn, this resulted in the Republicans winning 13 seats to only five for the Democrats.
Both parties gerrymander, of course, but Republicans had far more influence over the process this time because the 2010 election gave them dominance of so many legislatures. Thus did one election shape our politics for a decade, even though the country changed its mind one election later.
This unfortunate moment is a vindication of those like my colleagues Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, who have been arguing that today’s Republicans are fundamentally different from their forebears. In their appropriately named book, “It’s Even Worse than It Looks,” Mann and Ornstein called the current GOP “an insurgent outlier in American politics,” and described the party this way: “It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise . . . and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
Their words are a rather precise description of why Boehner was unable to deliver a majority of his party to his budget bill.
It’s true that Boehner miscalculated, foolishly asking Republicans to vote for a symbolic tax increase that had no chance of becoming law. And the speaker fed the fires of rebellion with repeated false claims that Obama had made no meaningful concession when the president had, in fact, annoyed his base by making rather big ones.
But now, at least, we know something important: The current Republican majority in the House cannot govern. Only a coalition across party lines can get the public’s business done.
- In the Republican revolt, a crisis of governance: E.J. Dionne Jr. (oregonlive.com)
- It’s Our System on the Cliff (themoderatevoice.com)
- “It’s Our System On The Cliff”: Republicans Can Spend Two Years Doing Absolutely Nothing Or Try To Help Solve The Country’s Problems (mykeystrokes.com)
- Republicans are falling off the cliff – San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com)
- “It’s Our System On The Cliff”: Republicans Can Spend Two Years Doing Absolutely Nothing Or Try To Help Solve The Country’s Problems (bell-book-candle.com)
- E.J. Dionne: Will Republicans respond thoughtfully or vindictively? – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- With budget battle growing, the tea party disappears (bangordailynews.com)
- “Fiscal cliff” efforts in disarray as U.S. lawmakers flee (reuters.com)
- Tea Party activists double down against Boehner and ‘fiscal cliff’ deal (newsday.com)
- Analysis: GOP policies led to fiscal cliff blowup (news.yahoo.com)
To Save Itself, the Republican Party Needs a Deal With Obama
The Republican brand is sinking. Can the party risk being blamed for paralysis and tax hikes?
Updated: December 21, 2012 | 11:39 a.m.
December 21, 2012 | 11:16 a.m.
AP PHOTO/JULIE JACOBSON
Mitt Romney supporter Nathan White watches presidential returns during a GOP watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Las Vegas.
You’re John Boehner and you might have only two weeks left as speaker of the House. So what do you do? Your choices are: a), Negotiate the best deal you can with President Obama to avoid the huge fiscal-cliff tax hikes and spending cuts that could drive the country into another recession, put it before the House, and pray that enough Republicans join enough Democrats to get it passed; or b), in hopes of holding on to what has to be one of the most aggravating jobs in the country, continue to try to appease hardcore House Republicans who do not seem to understand the results of an election held just last month.
To recap: Obama won reelection by what looks to be nearly 5 million votes, 51 percent to 47 percent. Democrats netted two more seats in the Senate, which they will control 55-45 in January. Republicans lost eight House seats and the House popular vote.
You’d think those numbers would be clear enough. Conservatives can complain all they want about allegedly “skewed” polls that show majorities of people agree with Obama on issues like taxes and trust him more to look out for their interests. But as the cliché goes, the only poll that counts is on Election Day.
Republicans did, of course, keep their House majority, and that gives them a crucial seat at the table. Yet some are behaving as if their victories in districts shaped to ensure maximum security for conservatives constitute a mandate to impose their ideas on a country that just rejected them. That, and the House’s constitutional role as the chamber where tax bills must originate, has brought us to our current impasse.
Boehner’s best move may be to heed the song made famous by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying” —that is, disregard the moment and focus on what really matters. Is it holding out for a conservative wish list, or averting a huge economic setback for the country and the millions of still-jobless people who were central to GOP promises during the 2012 campaign?
Before there was nominee Mitt Romney critiquing “the Obama economy,” there was Boehner’s constant refrain of “Where are the jobs?” If the jobless are not his primary concern right now, he could consider the business and financial communities that remain largely loyal to the GOP, even as its obstructionism has repeatedly disrupted and stalled the recovery in the past few years. They dread uncertainty, but that’s all they’ve been getting.
It would be consistent with Boehner’s legislative past for him to try to work things out. His record includes productive joint efforts with Democrats on health, education, and employment issues. Boehner did say on Friday that he would continue to pursue a deal with Obama, but he also said he was proud of the GOP conference, accused the president of intransigence, and didn’t inspire confidence about the outcome of talks (“How we get there, God only knows”).
The job of speaker is bifurcated. On the one hand, speakers are elected on party-line votes and are generally seen as leaders of their party. On the other, a speaker is second in line to be president, right after the vice president, in the event of a crisis. That suggests a responsibility loftier than party leader—and after all, there is a House majority leader to be the partisan point person.
That is, admittedly, an idealized view. So here’s one rooted in politics and self-interest: By resuming negotiations with the president and allowing the House to vote on the result, Boehner would do his party a favor by putting a reasonable, sensible face on its leadership. It’s possible he wouldn’t be doing himself a favor. But it’s just as possible that after watching this spectacle play out, nobody else will want his job.
- Trouble for Boehner’s Speakership? – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- The N.R.A. Protection Racket – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- CNN Poll: Are GOP policies too extreme? (mbcalyn.com)
- Tomorrow never comes – Tea Party Nation (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Republican Party gives Conservatives another reason not to vote for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee (moralmatters.org)
- Democratic House Candidates Now Have A Nearly 1.2 Million Vote Lead Over The Republicans (thinkprogress.org)
- It’s not just that Boehner won’t. Boehner can’t. (prairieweather.typepad.com)
- John Boehner caves again – Tea Party Nation (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Opinion: GOP Too Extreme (washington.cbslocal.com)
- The Republican Party is Not in Decline (consideragain.com)
Could There Be a Coup Against Boehner?
With the fiscal cliff approaching, will House Republicans turn on their own?
By Billy House
Updated: December 21, 2012 | 5:34 p.m.
December 21, 2012 | 4:42 p.m.
J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP
If any Republicans are plotting to overthrow John Boehner as House speaker, they aren’t making a lot of noise about it. Then again, successful coup d’etats are organized with whispers, not widely telegraphed, and typically denied right up until they are launched.
“No, I’m not,” Boehner said on Friday, when asked at a news conference if he was concerned about losing his post, as his No. 2 in command, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., stood by his side.
Still, the refusal on Thursday night of at least 35 of Boehner’s fellow Republicans to join in supporting his fiscal-cliff “Plan B” to avert income-tax rates from rising at year’s end on most Americans, forcing him to embarrassingly pull his own legislation from floor consideration, is being taken by some outside groups as added evidence of a speakership in dire trouble — or, even that Boehner should step down now.
Some conservative anti-Boehner forces outside of Congress are even floating names of members they’d like to see replace him. Those include GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio — identified by colleagues as a ringleader of the conservative hold-outs on Thursday — Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Tom Price of Georgia, and Cantor.
None of those lawmakers, predictably, are saying they will challenge Boehner. But under the House rules for electing a speaker, that’s not necessarily how they would go about leading such a revolt anyway.
There are even some murmurs within the House Republican Conference about what might happen when the House holds its next speaker election on Jan. 3 to open up the new 113th Congress.
This talk is not solely the result of Thursday night’s events, of course. That setback for Boehner represented only the latest in a string of episodes over two years as speaker in which he has been unable to bring the rowdiest and most conservative of his own rank-and-file members in line.
It has been a chronic and perhaps tiring circumstance for many even in his party. But it is one that is now magnified by the pressures of a need to find common ground with President Obama and Democrats to avert the looming expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and deep spending cuts set to kick in with the new year.
A successful strategy to oust Boehner would not require a challenger to pick up the support of a majority of GOP members. Rather, it would take less than half of the number of Thursday night’s 35 or more holdouts to block Boehner from keeping the speaker’s gavel. That’s because under House rules, a speaker must be elected with an “absolute majority” of all the House member votes cast, Republican and Democrat. That means the winner — who is not required to even be a member of Congress — must take at least 50 percent, plus one vote. For instance, if all 234 Republicans and 200 Democrats in the 113th Congress actually show up to vote for speaker, just 17 Republican defections from Boehner to anyone else could jeopardize his reelection by denying him the 218-vote absolute majority. And if no candidate receives the requisite majority, the roll call is repeated until a speaker is elected.
An example of a worst-case scenario occurred at the start of the 34th Congress in 1855, when no candidate for speaker could secure a majority for 133 ballots. For Boehner, though, even just being forced to a second ballot might be embarrassing enough as a de facto “no confidence” vote that he would decide to step aside for another House Republican name to be considered.
Such maneuvering would not amount to Republicans handing the speaker’s gavel to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California as the alternative, because she would not have enough votes, either. It would be purely about preventing Boehner from getting the required 218 votes.
Such a conspiracy, however, would require two key ingredients.
One is finding 17 House Republicans, or more, willing to publicly vote for someone other than Boehner on an initial ballot and even later ones, and staying unified in that effort —all the while knowing that retribution from Boehner will likely await them if they fail.
Then, if Boehner does eventually give up, an alternative candidate from among House Republicans must be able to rally an absolute majority of votes. There are rumors, which could not be substantiated in interviews with several House Republicans, of colleagues quietly trying to line up support for themselves as speaker if Boehner runs into trouble.
But one self-described conservative said he is aware of efforts to organize some show of dissatisfaction with Boehner during the speaker election on Jan. 3. This same member said that if Boehner were to not be elected on the first ballot, it would be tantamount to a “no-confidence vote.” He said that would likely lead to some energetic closed-door conferences to iron out differences, “or to even pick a new leader.”
That lawmaker said that under such a scenario, he does not believe that either Cantor or the No. 3 House Republican, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, would be selected as a new nominee, in part because of the gushing lock-step unity they’ve been emphasizing with Boehner as a leadership “team.”
In fact, aides to Cantor, who in the past has had an uneasy history with Boehner, have been determined over the past year to snuff out any suggestion of ongoing tension between the two, responding angrily when the idea of a Cantor challenge to Boehner was brought up.
Meanwhile, Price was reported by National Review as someone who might be thinking of putting his name into consideration as an option to Boehner if fiscal-cliff talks are seen by House conservatives as having gone sour. Some had noted that because Price has been mentioned as a potential 2014 primary challenger to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., even a quixotic challenge to Boehner’s speakership might score him points with conservatives, despite the cost of such a move in terms of potential retribution from Boehner.
But after a morning of such speculation on Dec. 9, a Price spokesman denied the congressman was running for speaker. “He is focused on real solutions to get America back on track. Those solutions reside in fundamental principles that embrace individual opportunity and economic freedom,” said the spokesman, Ryan Murphy. Nine days later, Price was named vice chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Hensarling is a darling of House conservatives. But his office on Friday responded to suggestions he might be interested in running for speaker with a statement that, “The only leadership position Congressman Hensarling plans to hold in the 113th Congress is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.”
Jordan, the outgoing chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 160 House conservatives, is a member who helped lead the charge against Boehner’s Plan B. His office had no comment on speculation he could emerge as a speaker hopeful.
Even before Boehner’s decision to pull his Plan B off the floor on Thursday night, the conservative group American Majority Action had this month launched a campaign to dump Boehner as speaker, seeking to convince House Republicans to vote for someone else on Jan. 3. The Virginia-based group is among those angered by what it sees as Boehner’s softening on tax increases as part of a fiscal-cliff deal. The organization is also upset by Boehner’s recent removal of some conservatives from committee posts.
But after Thursday night’s events, the group said in a statement, Boehner’s leadership has been “discredited,” adding, “Our country’s economy deserves better than to be held hostage by Speaker Boehner’s last cling to power.”
“He (Boehner) should save the Republican Party the embarrassment of a public leadership battle and resign,” added Ron Meyer, a spokesman for the group.
But Boehner is projecting a less-than-worried outlook.
“Listen, you’ve all heard me say this, and I’ve told my colleagues this: If you do the right things every day for the right reasons, the right things will happen,” Boehner said at his Friday news conference.
“And while we may have not been able to get the votes last night to avert 99.81 percent of the tax increases I don’t think … they weren’t taking that out on me. They were dealing with the perception that someone might accuse them of raising taxes,” Boehner said.
- Trouble for Boehner’s Speakership? – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- How Boehner’s Plan B Vote Imploded – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Breaking: Boehner’s Plan B fiscal cliff bill pulled amid dissension in GOP caucus (mbcalyn.com)
- A Flaccid Boehner (skydancingblog.com)
- The humiliation of John Boehner (salon.com)
- Right rages at Boehner fiscal cliff debacle – Katie Glueck – POLITICO.com (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- The Republican Leadership Is Very Unhappy Today (motherjones.com)
- Are Republicans Ready to Dump Boehner? (politicalwire.com)
- Boehner meets his Brutus (thehill.com)
- The Boehner of our existence (legalinsurrection.com)
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a victim of Speaker John Boehner’s purge of conservatives from leadership positions in the House, said there’s definitely a possibility, depending on what happens during these fiscal cliff negotiations, that enough conservative members of the House rise up against Speaker Boehner.
- Exclusive – Rep Huelskamp: Boehner Could Be Dumped (breitbart.com)
- Boehner to members: Leadership is watching their voting patterns – The Hill (mbcalyn.com)
- Boehner denies scorecard used in committee purge (politico.com)
- Boehner: Scorecard not behind purge (oddonion.com)
- Inside story of Boehner’s conservative purge (wnd.com)
- Conservative Congressman: John Boehner’s ‘Purge’ Was A ‘Warning’ To The GOP (businessinsider.com)
- The Meltdown Gets Ugly as Conservatives Attempt a Coup to Overthrow Boehner (politicususa.com)
- House Republicans Rip Boehner After Committee Reshuffling (usnews.com)
- After being booted from House committees, Reps. Huelskamp, Amash blast GOP (maddmedic.wordpress.com)
- Boehner Says Members Will Be Punished for Their Votes (politicalwire.com)
Partisan bias in U.S. House elections
By Rob Richie, Published: November 15
Rob Richie is executive director of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization based in Takoma Park.
Barack Obama won a clear victory in the presidential election, and Democrats won 25 of 33 Senate races. But they failed miserably to win the House, falling short by more than 30 seats. How could the same voters deliver such different outcomes?
The answer lies in the way we elect House members. Because of where each party’s voters live, Republicans have an intrinsic advantage under today’s winner-take-all voting rules. Left unreformed, the rules will distort House representation for at least a decade.
Last week, Democrats won the most votesin contested House races. FairVote’s post-election analysis of partisan voting trends suggests an underlying national preference toward Democrats of 52 percent to 48 percent. (If there had been no incumbents and each party had run a candidate in every district, the Democrats would have won 52 percent of the votes.) With a comparable edge in 2010, Republicans gained 64 seats to take the House. But this year, winning a House majority would have required a much bigger swing toward Democrats, as much as 55 percent of the vote, a historical high.
Incumbency and campaign spending helped Republicans, but their biggest advantage is structural. We elect House members in 435 districts, each with one representative. If ordered by their partisan leanings, 241 districts tilt toward Republicans. Only 194 lean toward Democrats. Of districts where one party’s underlying advantage is at least 8 percentage points, Republicans have the edge in 195 and Democrats in 166.
This partisan tilt has dramatic consequences. Partisanship is the dominant factor in determining election outcomes. The major-party presidential candidates raised more than $2 billion, but they focused on just 10 states — all of which were swing states in 2008. The remaining states’ electoral votes were accepted as locked up for one party or the other because of their underlying partisan tilt.
House races can be similarly grouped. In 2010, Democratic incumbents went 139-0 in the most Democratic districts but were swamped in Republican districts. This year, Democrats won 176 of the 177 most Democratic districts, but Republicans didn’t need to win a single Democratic-leaning seat to keep their majority.
Independent redistricting alone will only modestly reduce this partisan bias. Although gerrymandered maps boosted Republicans in several states, maps drawn by independent commissions would still leave Democrats at a disadvantage because of their relative concentration in urban areas. More than two-thirds of the 68 most one-sided districts are Democratic. But Republicans dominate in 192 of the 323 remaining districts where one party has an edge of at least 6 percentage points. Last week, Democrats gained only three seats in those 192 districts.
Democrats have faced this bias for decades — in 1997, the GOP had an edge of 43 House seats in districts largely drawn by Democrats — but they could win House majorities because their “blue dog” centrists could outperform their presidential nominees. As ticket-splitting has declined, those candidates are losing — and the longtime partisan bias in districts is exposed.
The good news is that bias can be removed through statutes replacing single-member district elections with fair voting plans that are grounded in our own traditions. As recently as 1968, many House members were elected in larger districts that had more than one representative. Fair voting alternatives to winner-take-all elections are increasingly common in local elections.
FairVote has drawn voting plans for every state that are designed to allow like-minded voters to elect representatives in proportion to their voting strength. Candidates would run in larger congressional districts, with three to five seats. Rather than nine single-member districts, for example, Massachusetts would have three districts that would each elect three representatives.
The simplest fair-voting system would give each voter one potent vote. In a three-seat district, a third of voters would have the power to elect a preferred candidate. This math means that like-minded voters reflecting a district’s left, right and center would consistently elect preferred candidates. In Massachusetts, each district would probably elect a Republican, a Democrat and an independent-minded centrist leaning to the left. Louisiana’s middle seat would likely go to a more conservative centrist.
Nearly every voter in every election would end up with shared representation — meaning both Republicans and Democrats winning in every corner of every state.Nationally, partisan bias would be eliminated, so the party clearly having a better year would almost always win more seats.
Fair voting has great political potential, grounded in major parties that see the value in their candidates winning seats across the nation. It also would probably boost the election of women and racial minorities.
Simply highlighting existing biases helps focus attention on Congress. House Republicans kept their majority this year only through incumbency and structural bias. We should ask for fairness — and openness to reforms that establish what every American can support: a level playing field.
Read more at PostOpinions:
- Partisan bias in US House elections – Washington Post (washingtonpost.com)
- A Poll’s Query About Partisan Bias Of Pollsters Finds The Tilt Is With Voters (npr.org)
- Republicans Can’t Declare Mandate With More Democrat House … – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls Scott Brown ‘one of the most partisan people’ to ever serve in the Senate (boston.com)
- Voters Say 2012 Race Was More Negative Than Past Votes – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- 10 things to know on Election Day (king5.com)
- Editorial: The Tarnish of the Electoral College (nytimes.com)
- How redistricting leads to a more partisan Congress – in two charts (washingtonpost.com)
- Denny’s raises prices. Obamacare? No, class warfare. (tv.msnbc.com)
- U.S. House Elections? Yaaaaawn (independentsentinel.com)