McCain on Planned Parenthood funding: No way am I voting for a shutdown

A morale booster for the big upcoming puah via CNS. The House passed a bill today that would freeze funding for PP, but that’s really just a consolation prize. Democrats will filibuster that if McConnell brings it to the floor in the Senate and then they’ll filibuster the spending bill if McConnell attaches an amendment defunding PP to that. If only there was some way to get around that darned filibuster, both on this matter and the Iran deal.

Perhaps there is.

Dozens of House Republican lawmakers are making a late stab at pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to abandon the filibuster on legislation to block the nuclear deal with Iran.

A total of 57 House lawmakers signed on to a letter led by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) telling McConnell that blocking the deal was “simply so consequential” that it demanded a change to the Senate’s rules, known as invoking the “nuclear option.”

“Our request to eliminate the filibuster for some votes simply underscores that in a democracy the majority should decide,” they wrote. “The super-majority now required to advance legislation is 60 votes, which is not serving our country well.”…

“We are under no illusion that the elimination of the Senate filibuster for some votes will guarantee the passage of legislation much less its enactment into law,” they wrote on Thursday. “However, a move by the Senate to a majority vote that can approve some legislation would make it much easier for Congress to advance meaningful solutions to challenges our country faces.”

Why are House Republicans applying cross-chamber pressure on McConnell to win a symbolic victory by getting the Iran bill to O’s desk, where it’s sure to die by veto? You know why: Because, unlike their Senate counterparts, they’re all up for reelection next year and they’re all scared to death of the torches-and-pitchforks anti-D.C. atmosphere of Trumpmania. It’ll be hard enough for them to hold their seats in a presidential election year, when the electorate is bluer than usual. Having Republican voters spitting mad at Boehner and McConnell over their perceived impotence against the Dems and ready to throw all the bums out risks primary challenges in the spring and a demoralized GOP base in the fall. The best thing they can do short of actually getting something passed is to pit themselves against McConnell and hope that, by nuking the filibuster, he’ll pit the entire party directly against Obama. Then they can say they stood up to The One and that the only way to break the logjam is to replace him with a Republican. That might get Republican voters ready to vote.

If they’re going to pit themselves against McConnell this way, might they also pit themselves against Boehner if and when Mark Meadows’s resolution to replace him with a new Speaker somehow makes it to the floor? Boehner’s even more of a populist lightning rod than McConnell is. Politico thinks he’s in enough trouble that they’ve already begun wondering if Pelosi and the Democrats might swoop in to save him:

If hardline conservatives move to dethrone Boehner in the coming weeks – as many expect — House Democrats will be in the enviable position of deciding whether he stays or goes. If they side with the Ohio Republican or refuse to play ball, the coup will fail. If Democrats side with the Republican rebels, Boehner will be forced out, plunging the House into chaos.

In the meantime, Democrats are more than happy to sit back and watch the ongoing public Republican infighting.

“Whatever lets them stew in their own juices and whatever lets the temperature of those juices rise is what I think we should do,” said one Democratic lawmaker.

If Pelosi helps keep Boehner in office, he’ll be discredited on the right as a creature of the Democrats who’ll be under pressure to repay them with concessions on major bills going forward. Would Boehner want to govern that way? If Pelosi doesn’t help keep Boehner, his replacement will be under pressure to appease House conservatives on future votes to show that he’s an improvement over Boehner, resulting in a more conservative GOP majority. Why would Pelosi want that? What’s the way out of this maze?

Exit question: Might McConnell warm to the idea of nuking the filibuster entirely if the GOP’s 2016 prospects suddenly improve for whatever reason over the next few months? He’s promised not to do that, but the likelier it seems that the next president will be a Republican and/or that Republicans will retain their Senate majority, the more incentive there is to blow up the filibuster for good and govern by simple majority. Democrats are assuredly going to do this themselves sometime over the next 10 years if they’re back in control of government. Why wait for them to leap?

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David Strom 8:01 AM on February 03, 2023
David Strom 9:21 PM on February 02, 2023