Below, my colleague Leon Wolf has a run down on what Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] is giving away is the “doc fix” legislation. This is not to say that something doesn’t need to be done because right now the “doc fix” is simply and end run around the deficit accounting process.
What is more unsettling is the way this piece of legislation came about. It seems to signal that the era of the “Hastert Rule,” where the Speaker will not entertain legislation without the consent of the majority of his caucus, is dead.
The House’s hard-core conservatives have gotten used to losing at the end of a long legislative fight. But for the first time in the 114th Congress, Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] is cutting them loose from the get go.
Boehner and his top chairmen will pitch a permanent “doc-fix” deal to Republicans Tuesday morning that would have been unheard of in the GOP-led House of the last few years: an entitlement change that adds tens of billions of dollars to the 10-year deficit and that they know fiscal hawks will vote against. What’s more, Boehner and his team negotiated the deal with House Minority Leader [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] and her Democrats first.
That is a noted strategy shift for Boehner, who on several recent occasions—including last month’s Homeland Security Department funding standoff—has only gone to Pelosi as a last resort and, instead, relied on 218 Republicans to pass right-leaning bills. Now he is not bothering to try to appease the most vocal hard-liners in his party, members who—Boehner’s allies have argued—were never going to come around to his side anyway.
This is an unfortunate but foreseeable situation that was bound to happen as the House GOP caucus became progressively more conservative than the GOP leadership and as Boehner has shown he has less and less stomach for fighting. The fact that the Speaker went to the Democrats first to get votes on this spending deal shows the extent to which Boehner has been mortally injured as a leader. It also tells us that the House may very well have become less conservative than the Senate.