What if, instead, leadership told the committee chairman, have your committee write the bill and we’ll bring it to the floor under an open rule. They craft a marginally conservative bill. On the floor, conservatives will offer amendments to the bill, and a lot of them will pass, making the bill more conservative. And Democrats and moderate Republicans will also team up on amendments that pull the bill in the opposite direction. You will end up with something that is a mixed bag of measures, with some that tug it one way, others that tug it the other. The only person angry about that process is a committee chair.
That’s a scenario where the bill will likely ultimately pass. But let’s consider a different one – say a committee reports a marginally conservative bill and the chairman says: this is as good as we’re going to get. Conservatives demand an open amendment process, and it turns out the chair was right. Moderates and Democrats who may have felt obliged to vote for a marginally conservative measure amend it down to a marginally liberal one, and the bill either dies or passes with a bipartisan coalition. Again, who is angered by this process? The votes were transparent, and if moderates were out of line, primary voters are better than leadership at imposing discipline anyway. Conservatives would be happier with such a process, but so would others.
NFL fans will recognize this for what it is: It’s a classic dysfunctional Quarterback-Wide Receiver relationship writ large. This is Keyshawn Johnson demanding that you give him the damn ball. This is Greg Jennings, broken leg and all, putting the team on his back. And when the more enthusiastic House Freedom Caucus members run to talk radio, it’s the political equivalent of Terrell Owens working out in his driveway.