Quotes of the day

Two months into full Republican control of Congress, GOP leaders are struggling to demonstrate they really are in charge

“Obviously we’re not getting good results, are we? I base everything on results,” said Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, one of the many Republicans frustrated with the GOP’s performance, particularly on the Homeland Security bill.

“Our leadership set the stage for this,” Fleming said. “Yet we didn’t really see much messaging, coordination or communication.”…

“The problem is there are a whole lot of us, including leadership, who put out statements saying Obama’s executive order was illegal, unconstitutional. How do you backtrack off of that?” asked Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.


The House has become an embarrassing spectacle, and the promises of Republican leaders in both houses to govern without hop-scotching from crisis to crisis have been shredded. Speaker John A. Boehner’s control of the tea party faction in his GOP caucus is so slight he couldn’t even manage a three-week funding extension for DHS, let alone approving a budget through the end of the fiscal year in September.

Now, instead of tackling major legislation, Congress will be paralyzed for more days — and perhaps even longer — as House Republicans continue to insist on measures to reverse Mr. Obama’s immigration moves that have no chance of passage in the Senate, no chance of being signed by the president and no chance of becoming law.

We happen to agree with many Republicans that the president’s executive action was a case of executive overreach. But it is reckless in the extreme to wallow in brinkmanship and imperil a key department of government rather than allow the courts to settle the dispute. And it is certainly not what the American people want, expect or deserve from their lawmakers.


“The only reason is that it’s not the best possible outcome [for the White House] is that they didn’t pass the full-year funding,” an Obama aide said, reflecting on what happened Friday night. “The fact that they’re going to next week, and that we avoided a shutdown, was 99 percent of what we wanted.”…

After spending last year keeping Congress at a distance, Obama aides said they’d been optimistic about finding a way to work with Republicans on some issues in 2015. Now, while the year looks like it will offer fewer opportunities for deals, the White House will be able to exert more pressure on Republicans when they get the chance.

Obama and his advisers believe the lesson for the House GOP is that going forward, they’re going to have to work together with the White House and Democrats to put together bipartisan majorities to pass legislation, abandoning their preference for relying on all-Republican majorities that include the tea party wing.


Republicans said they expected that next week the House would end up going along with the Senate’s bill funding Homeland Security through September without immigration changes, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

“I don’t think there’s any alternative,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, (R) of Pennsylvania. “When we’re at the end of next week, what do we do?”

More broadly, congressional analyst Chris Krueger of Guggenheim Securities told the newspaper, “The GOP has its largest House majority in over 70 years but that fact is misleading: a 28-seat majority is actually more like a 3-seat majority given that at least 25 Republicans cannot be counted on for the most important votes.”


Multiple reports that House Speaker John Boehner has cut a deal to pass a long-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security without ties to rolling back President Obama’s executive action on immigration has reignited rumblings about a Boehner coup…

At least one congressional aide said the deal between Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was to get enough Democratic votes in the Republican-led chamber to avoid the shutdown at midnight Friday, in exchange for Boehner’s promise to allow a vote next week on a long-term funding bill “clean” of the immigration issue.

Boehner spokesman Mike Steel told Fox News that such a deal doesn’t exist. Pelosi’s office has neither confirmed nor denied such a deal.


The bottom line is any House Democrat could have the power next week to force a vote on a clean DHS funding measure. Here’s how:…

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.”…

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…

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.

It would still require a majority vote of the House, and therefore would require dozens of Republican votes and likely at least the tacit approval of House leadership.


[The DHS standoff has] also left even Boehner backers wondering how viable he remains. They admit these repeated confrontations, in which Boehner can’t muster 218 Republican votes for his proposals and has to turn to Democrats for help, leave him looking weak and ineffective — and thus vulnerable to a conservative challenge.

“Some of these 52 [Republican who voted no] are more worried about protecting their own careers than protecting their constituents from ISIL. They are more worried about primaries than they are about the country,” said a GOP lawmaker close to Boehner, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “This is all aimed at Boehner. They want to take Boehner out.”…

One conservative member, who asked for anonymity to speak frankly, said the mood of his colleagues will depend on how Boehner handles himself over the next week. If he tries to put a “clean” DHS funding bill on the floor for a vote, or doesn’t make overtures to conservatives, anger could boil over, the Republican said…

“He is the speaker of the United States House until he’s not,” Lucas said.


Two senior House Republican sources tell CNN there’s a serious concern among those close to the Speaker that if he allowed a vote on a clean DHS funding bill, conservatives would make a motion to vacate the chair, a direct challenge to his job

Moderate Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent acknowledged he has also heard about conservatives using the fight over this DHS bill to try to remove Boehner.

“Right now, we have to get serious, I think a lot of people better get serious about governing and it’s time for all of these, you know D.C. games to end. I mean all these palace coups or whatever the hell is going on around here has to end, and we have to get down to business of governing.”


The procedural maneuver to declare his office “vacant,” while almost certain to fail, would further demonstrate the depth of frustration with Boehner among disgruntled Republicans who have challenged his leadership before. It would show how weakened Boehner has become and how difficult it may be for this Congress to get much accomplished…

A majority of House members present and voting would be required to oust the speaker, Huder said. Before that vote can be taken, a series of procedural steps are required, and those earlier votes would require help from House Democrats to pass…

Some Republicans opposed to Boehner have recently formed a new group called the “House Freedom Caucus.”


Professor Larry Larmer of the University of Wisconsin-Extension writes that, “When the chair is vacated, the chairperson’s rights of participation are the same as those of any other member.”

“Upon vacating, the chairperson is not permitted to resume the duties of presiding until the issue pending at the time of vacating is no longer before the group,” Larmer continued.

It’s not the kind of parliamentary procedure that gets whipped out every day, and CNN didn’t elaborate on how a motion to vacate the chair could remove Boehner from the speakership. Parliamentarian Nancy Sylvester defines vacating the chair as “To temporarily relinquish the chair so that the presiding officer can participate in debate.”


If somehow a motion to vacate the chair did succeed and Boehner were pushed out—perhaps if all 188 Democrats and some 27 Republicans voted for it—House rules would call for the chamber to start debating the motion within two legislative days, and members would begin to nominate other candidates. Yet past attempts at taking down Boehner have shown there is no unifying alternative. Of the 25 votes cast against him in January’s speaker election, the next-highest candidate received 12, while members as far-flung as Rep. Ted Yoho and Sen. Rand Paul received one vote apiece. That history causes Boehner’s allies to question the validity of claims that he is in trouble…

Even if the quixotic maneuver got to the point of nominating alternatives, Rep. Mike Simpson, one of the speaker’s close friends, said his allies would simply renominate Boehner. Those close to the speaker believe he has at least 150 backers, enough to block any other Republican candidacy…

The plot could work, then, only if it embarrassed Boehner to the point where he decided to willingly step aside—and some of his allies do wonder whether he has had enough with being constantly undercut.

“This has got to have an affect on him, personally, just psychologically. To have to go to the mat on these issues. He ran for it, he knows what the job entails, but we certainly made it pretty difficult on him when we seem to fight so much among ourselves,” Rep. Steve Womack said. “From the speaker election to the other issues, he’s just been really put through the process. I hate it that our conference has so many issues, so many factions among itself, that we can’t get our team together and all be singing off the same sheet of music.”


[W]ith leadership taking flak, it’s far from clear if the new Congress, with the first GOP majority in eight years, will be able to deliver on the thorny policy issues — trade, tax reform, budget cuts — they promised voters…

“I prefer to be in the arena voting than trying to placate a small group of phony conservative members who have no credible policy proposals and no political strategy to stop Obama’s lawlessness,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare)…

“While conservative leaders are trying to move the ball up the field, these other members sit in exotic places like basements of Mexican restaurants and upper levels of House office buildings, seemingly unaware that they can’t advance conservatism by playing fantasy football with their voting cards,” he said.


House Republicans who have opposed measures to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because they haven’t also rolled back President Obama’s executive action on immigration need to be louder, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Sunday.

“We haven’t made the case strong enough. We know it’s unconstitutional and we know it’s unfair,” Jordan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”…

The conservative lawmaker played down a potential coup against Boehner should the Speaker introduce a “clean” funding bill for DHS that does not include measures to roll back Obama’s executive actions, saying he was “most interested” in upholding the Constitution.

“That’s not gonna happen. That’s not the issue.”


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David Strom 6:01 AM on June 06, 2023