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February 11, 2014 11:05 AM MST

House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill as Boehner "Gives Up?"

  • by: Colorado Pols

House Speaker John Boehner (R)
I make you laugh? Are you calling me a clown?
Interesting series of events today in our nation's capitol. From NBC News:

The House has passed a "clean" extension of the debt limit.

Twenty-eight Republicans joined all but two Democrats to approve the extension of the debt limit until March 2015 — without any additional legislative wish list items attached…

…Republicans had wanted to attach some kind of policy provision to the must-pass legislation. Members suggested including measures like approving the Keystone XL pipeline or repealing part of the Affordable Care Act, but leaders were unable to secure enough votes for those add-ons to ensure passage. The White House also insisted it would not pay “ransom” for the extension, a position that Obama successfully held during last year’s government shutdown.

Ultimately, House Speaker John Boehner brought a “clean” debt limit extension for a vote, a move that incensed many conservatives who wanted to extract some kind of concession from the White House.

Prior to the vote, our friends at "The Fix" wrote about the Greek tragedy that has become Speaker Boehner's legacy, suggesting that Boehner "quit" on the debt ceiling bill because he couldn't reach a deal with the many different factions of his Caucus:

House Speaker John Boehner summed up his speakership during a press conference Tuesday morning: “We don’t have 218 votes. When you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing.”

Boehner was talking specifically about his failed attempts to cobble together a deal that would have allowed the Republican House majority to support an increase in the debt ceiling.  Over the past 10 days, he had tried to lure tea party conservatives to vote "yes" by putting approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, elimination of risk corridors in the Affordable Care Act and, finally, restoring the cost of living adjustment for members of the military on the table. Nothing worked. The simple fact is that there was no proposal that Boehner and his leadership team could think up that could overcome the fact that 30-40 Republicans wouldn't vote for any debt ceiling increase.

And so, Boehner gave up. "Let his party give him the debt ceiling he wants," Boehner said of President Obama. (Boehner's work is far from finished, of course. He will still need to deliver at least 17 Republican votes — if all 199 Democrats vote for their clean increase. And that's far from a sure thing.)

We've seen this movie before.  From the fiscal cliff to the farm bill to the government shutdown — and at several points in between — the narrative arc just keeps repeating itself: A controversial deadline looms, Boehner and the GOP leadership try like hell to avert it through a series of offers to the tea party wing of the conference, those offers are rejected, and Boehner is left throwing up his hands and cutting a deal with Democrats.

This, as has become clear over the past year or so, is Boehner's fate as Speaker: To lead a group of Republicans who do not want to be led.  And, ironically, even in the attempt to lead his conference (that is his job after all), Boehner has become further villainized by outside conservative groups.

In Boehner's defense, it is exceedingly difficult to lead a group of Republicans who not only don't want to be led, but don't know where they want to go anyway. Many conservative groups, such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, are openly calling for Boehner's ouster as Speaker, as though changing the man at the top would have any effect on changing the incompatible dynamics of the Republican caucus.

But after years of open frustration with Tea Party Republicans, perhaps Boehner is charting a new direction as leader — by no longer pretending to hide his cards. At the very least, perhaps Boehner has come to a different conclusion following last fall's government shutdown debacle. If they're not going to let him steer the ship, at least he's going to decide which iceberg to ram.



11 thoughts on “House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill as Boehner “Gives Up?”

  1. He kind of fails to mention that, right up until the time of Obama,  whether the President was R or D, no matter who held the majority where, debt ceiling raises were a mere matter of routine since all they were for was to allow the bills incurred by the legislation already passed by both Houses and signed into law to be paid. These babies seem to have no idea that they promised to pay for stuff already and if they need to borrow more to pay the bills then they're just going to have to do it. It has nothing to do with controlling future spending. And, as they're finding out, the threat doesn't work as extortion because everybody knows the wealthiest nation on earth isn't going to fail to honor its obligations, the obligations congress incurred. 

    I suppose it's good for riling up the wacko base and that's good for the members from the wacko CDs but it's wearing pretty thin everywhere else. One day some of these red state wackos are going to wake up and find their safe CDs, in places like Texas, are full of  those"'other" people and not so safe anymore.


    Boehner also failed to mention that even if he could have achieved some face saving compromise, he would have been powerless to get a majority of Rs to go for it.  So the spin is, it's Obama's fault for not compromising (on something that has never before been subject to compromise) so he's going to bring it to the floor and let those terrible Democrats (and a small group of remaining grownup Rs in the House) pass it, That'll show 'em. Of course TPers won't buy it because they're

    crazy and ignorant and the grown ups know perfectly well that he had no choice because he's such a weak speaker whose party is being destroyed by the monster they created and can't control.

  2. It looks like all of our GOP representatives voted for default. It just boogles the mind considering how much federal government is in Colorado..I think I've read we have the third largest federal workforce in the country (basically only the DC area has more). A default is so dangerous because it basically means the federal government won't be able to pay all of its bills…so which part gets shafted? Seniors? Our military? Our veterans? The national parks and forests on which our tourist economy depends?

    These are the questions we need to ask our representatives especially vulnerable Coffman and increasingly vulnerable Tipton. I've never understood why Colorado Springs, the area of our state MOST economically dependent on the federal government tolerates the lunacy of Lamborn and his anti-government stance, yet somehow they keep voting him in.

  3. Note that Cory Gardner was a vote to default as was Mike Coffman. The most surprising vote to me was a yes vote from Darrel lIssa. House GOP leadership top three all voted yes. Retiring Congressman 'Buck" McKeon voted yes.

      1. Hardly — the GOP coordinated its votes. They wanted this thing passed as much as the Dems given all the public blowback they took previously. They provided just enough R votes to pass this deal from Rs who are totally safe, and unlikely to be challenged. The other hypocrites could the vote "no," and lessen the prospect of being attacked from their right. 

        See also: Kabuki

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