Just Where Is The Center of Gravity Here?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), left, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Byron York and I don’t agree on many things politically. But he’s a rock solid reporter and simply essential at times like these when the real story is buried in the most conservative reaches of the House and Senate GOP caucuses. This article from this morning is a good example. It comes as little surprise that John Boehner could break through virtually all the stalemates if he brought, for instance, a clean ‘continuing resolution’ (aka CR) to the House floor and passed it mainly on Democratic votes.

Of course, he’d likely be ending his tenure as Speaker, or so the thinking goes. But what York suggests, on talking to Republican members in the House, is that he could probably put a lot of these bills up for votes and still get a majority of his own caucus to vote for them. Perhaps a large majority. In other words, the so-called Hastert Rule isn’t even the hold up.

Here’s a key part of York’s piece …

“I’ve been trying to figure this out,” says one House Republican of the current standoff over funding the government. “It seems to me that Boehner could do whatever he wants with Democrats on the floor and still get about 180 or 190 of us. So why doesn’t he do that?”

The lawmaker was referring to the fact that a large majority of the House’s 232 Republicans, plus a large majority of its 200 Democrats, would likely support a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government but not defund, delay, or limit Obamacare. If House Speaker John Boehner were to bring such a bill to the floor, it would probably pass with a majority of Republican as well as Democratic votes. But Boehner doesn’t do it.

York and his interlocutor go on to suggest that there are likely only between 30 and 50 House members who are really committed to the current course – well under a quarter of the House GOP caucus. A high estimate is 80. By process of elimination, they think Boehner just thinks that if he crosses those folks they’ll trigger a Speaker election and unseat him.

Meanwhile, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is pleading with Boehner to start governing with a working majority of Democrats and Republicans.

I will, as they say, believe it when I see it. A couple days ago, Rep. King (R-NY) was supposedly going to lead a ‘moderate’ revolt of 25 members. But in the end, only a handful voted against the relevant House ‘rule’ and half of those were folks like Bachmann and Steve King from the Crazy Caucus who think the Boehner strategy doesn’t go far enough.

On the day before the shutdown, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who’s actually no moderate, was at first castigating his colleagues as “lemmings” for going along with the Boehner/Defundo strategy but by the end of the day was going lemming himself and voting with them.

I saw this movie before during the Impeachment pseudo-crisis. The fabled GOP moderates never appear. But could it really be that the number of representatives driving this train is, on the high side, between 50 and 80 people? If that’s true, Boehner’s position is dramatically more craven than many of us have imagined. And the dysfunction is greater than at least I had imagined.

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: