At some point, Speaker John Boehner was going to have to show the most conservative members of his caucus that he would get work done in the House without them.
Yesterday revealed that day has not yet come. The ramifications of the failure to pass the Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY12 in the House will be far-reaching. It’s true that Democrats took advantage of the Tea Party defections from the GOP leadership and aided in killing the CR. But this was the second embarrassment on a critical vote for the House Republican leadership this year.
Rep. Eric Cantor had predicted that the votes were there to pass the CR. “All is well.” It wasn’t.
In blunt terms, the Speaker asked his caucus to endorse a deal that the House of Representatives had made with the Administration. The CR conformed to the Budget Control Act that was passed to increase the debt ceiling. The House and its Speaker had made a deal. The CR was the natural legislative result of that deal.
This was not perfidy on the part of the President, or some RINO conspiracy. This was the word of the House of Representatives, given and vouched for by the Speaker to the President. For members of his own caucus to publicly fail to help the Speaker keep his commitment shows that Republicans in the House (and in the country) are divided. They are in danger of becoming the equivalent of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo after the Third Balkan War.
If the United States had a parliamentary system, the Speaker would have to step down. His leadership of his own party has been repudiated by the right of the right.
Now comes decision time for the Speaker and his team.
Will Speaker Boehner turn to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and try to forge a centrist coalition to pass the CR? Can either of them gather enough votes to pass, once again, funding for the government? Does this failure pre-sage gridlock within the Joint Select Committee’s “12 Apostles”? With whom does the Administration negotiate any “Grand Bargain” on fiscal policy? Jim Jordan?
At some point, the House must repudiate extremists in both parties, or continue to suffer growing disgust and anger from the voters. We have seen silliness on the Continuing Resolution for FY11, stupidity on the battle on the increase in the debt ceiling, and now betrayal in the vote yesterday on the CR for FY12. One cannot foul one’s nest forever without serious consequences.
A quick survey of very experienced former senior members of House and Senate staff showed unanimity this morning– none of them could recall such a public humiliation for any Speaker of the House in the past four decades.
The CR for FY12 will be patched up in some fashion and passed. No doubt.
The question is whether the wounds the Speaker has suffered can be patched up.