COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 8, 2015—Events of the past week leave conservatives with but one choice. Speaker Boehner must go. The problem is, it’s going to be harder than ever.
Nothing highlights the need to replace the speaker more than the vote this week on funding for the Department of Homeland Security. It was a campaign pledge on the part of Republicans in November that they would rein in the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty. Yet on Tuesday, the bill to fund the entire DHS until Sept. 30 passed the House 257 to 167 with all Democrats voting yea and a majority of Republicans voting nay.
Who needs to fear Nancy Pelosi’s becoming speaker again when John Boehner is doing the job for her?
This is a watershed vote. The implications are immense.
If one looks at the situation dispassionately, one can see the very difficult position the speaker is in. A vote to fund all except executive amnesty had already passed the House. It was the Senate that amended the bill to include full funding and bounced the grenade back to the House.
What were the speaker’s choices? Bounce it back to the Senate. What would the chances be that the Republican caucus could get it together enough to pass it as well? It didn’t work the first time, and the president would be certain to veto the bill, sending it back to Congress to try again. Ultimately, we would have the same end that we have now.
Politics is not dispassionate.
Passing bills is about doing what’s right for the country within the limits of the Constitution. People disagree about “what’s right”; that’s why we have votes and legislators work to write bills that will garner a majority of favorable votes. But passing bills also serves broader purposes—and one of those purposes is to make a statement of principle even in the face of certain defeat. Republicans haven’t learned that.
The speaker should have bounced the bill back to the Senate instead of jumping on the grenade.
A Republican-controlled Congress should send bill after popular bill to the president and force him to veto them. Harry Reid and his do-nothing Senate have been protecting Obama from that for four years. The American people finally figured out the game and gave the Senate back to Republicans. We expected action.
All we’ve gotten so far is the Keystone Pipeline bill. The bill itself is a good thing, and it followed a playbook that needs to be run over and over again. After the expected presidential veto, the Senate on Thursday failed to override that veto by five votes. The effort was not in vain.
The Wall Street Journal reports: “The vote was nonetheless a bipartisan rebuke of the President that shows how captive his Administration is to green billionaires.” Commenting on the president’s most recent statement about Keystone, the Journal said: “Except for the prepositions, everything in that statement is false.” It then proceeded to prove, point by point, the truth of the assertion.
That’s what Republicans get when they make a principled stand—and incidentally, are joined by some Democrats. It is clear who stands with the majority of the American people on an issue and who is thwarting the will of the people.
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Not so with executive amnesty.
What did Boehner get? Not nothing exactly. Harry Reid opined that the vote shows how Republicans should govern with Democrats; i.e., cave completely. House Democrats have said they will support Boehner in any coup attempt. This is unprecedented. Normally each party puts forward a nominee, members vote for their own party’s nominee and the majority party wins. But if Democrats vote to support Boehner and Republicans split their vote, the result is the same as the DHS vote.
A Republican speaker who can stay in office only with Democratic support. A Republican Speaker who can pass bills only with Democratic votes. Nothing to be proud of. That’s what happens when you can’t unify your own caucus.
Prior to 2010 Democrats were able to ram through their radical agenda by gaining and maintaining strict control of their caucus. The largest bloc within the Democrat caucus is the Progressive Caucus—self-described socialists and outright Marxists. When the House changed control in 2010, they weren’t the ones who lost elections. It was moderate Democrats. Now by maintaining that strict party discipline those Democrat socialists remain the largest voting bloc in the House.
Only if Republicans unite will they win. That’s as true in the Senate as in the House.
Here’s what needs to happen in the House: Boehner must go. Not because Democrats voted with him but because a majority of Republicans didn’t. Because he doesn’t reflect the principles of the majority of his party. Because he can’t control his own caucus, take the mandate that the American people gave him in November and do something with it.
Boehner won’t resign his position, and it looks unlikely that he can be voted out. But Rep. Dave Brat from Virginia showed there is another way.
However it happens, it bears constant repeating: Boehner must go.