As we saw last week, Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ]’s leadership has become so weak that he’s being forced to subcontract the Speakership to minority leader Nancy “no really, I never have to blink” Pelosi. His attempt to fund DHS for three weeks was rejected by the House, he lost 51 GOP votes. The week long extension passed because Pelosi whipped that vote, even so Boehner lost 54 GOP votes. This is not a ding only on Boehner. Both Majority Leader [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001165′ ] and Majority Whip [mc_name name=’Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001176′ ] deserve raspberries for the way they are managing what should be a very simple strategy, one that Speaker Boehner ably articulated weeks ago: the House has acted now the Senate needs to act.
Because suasion and leadership have failed, it is reported that now Boehner is looking at an obscure parliamentary maneuver to give Senate Democrats what they want:
Going to conference is debatable in the Senate, meaning the motion can be filibustered. Accordingly, the Senate is scheduled to hold what should be an ill-fated cloture vote Monday evening to limit debate on an agreement to go to conference with the House. If the Senate then returns the papers to the House, it could provide an opening for Democrats to test a seldom-invoked provision of the chamber’s rules.
Clause four of House Rule XXII (not to be confused with the more-often cited Senate Rule XXII) provides: “When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.”
As the Congressional Research Service explains, “A chamber enters the stage of disagreement by formally agreeing to a motion or a unanimous consent request that it disagrees to the position of the other chamber, or that it insists on its own position.”
In other words, any House lawmaker, arguing that a conference scenario is moot and won’t be resolved before the clock runs out on the current extension of DHS funding, could take to the floor and move that the House recedes from its previous position and concurs in the Senate amendment.
Because such a motion is “privileged” that would then trigger a vote on sending the Senate-amended full year Homeland Security appropriations bill to Obama’s desk without any of those riders designed to block his executive actions on immigration.
“Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week,” House Minority Leader [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ], D-Calif., wrote in a Friday evening Dear Colleague letter to her fellow Democrats, encouraging them to support a one-week Homeland Security CR.
If it were to prevail, Democratic aides told CQ Roll Call that Republicans think the plan could protect Boehner from blame that he “caved” to his party’s moderates. Boehner and his allies could just point to House Rules and parliamentary procedure, however obscure and arcane, to explain what just occurred ostensibly beyond his control.
Re-read the last paragraph to see who is behind this.
I hope to heaven that no one in Boehner’s office thinks he can avoid blame for this or that anyone believes anything hits the House floor without his acquiescence. Because that would mean that they are stupider than they think we are.
Rarely in the history of representative government has a majority party been so effortlessly emasculated by a minority party. McConnell’s inept management of this has created a perceived crisis where none exists: about 85% of DHS will stay on the job without an appropriation. Hopefully the other 15% will find gainful employment elsewhere. National security is not harmed. Less money is spent. And a message is sent to the White House that the Congress will not allow Obama to create his own laws. This is really no-brain stuff.
Instead, we are saddled with Congressional leadership that no only doesn’t know how to win– or even play the game for that matter — but who seem viscerally opposed to the idea of winning.