Commensurate with the season, there are tricks and sometimes treats in obscure DC politics. As of a few minutes ago the US is technically shutdown, exactly like the Teaparty wing of the GOP intended and promised. But the latest political move in that saga by John Beohner is so strange it makes one worry the Speaker of the people’s House is suffering from something more serious than an embedded, intractable faction. And I don’t mean that in the usual funny way at the Speaker’s expense, it’s so irrational its almost cause for worry as far as Boehner’s state of mental health. It’s a little hard to explain why this so insider sad/funny if you don’t follow arcane procedures. The gist of it is he has requested the CR go to a conference. That has some people scratching their heads and that’s saying it nicely.
A crappy analogy might be a football coach being being interviewed on live TV and suddenly blurting out he demands the NFL draft commence in the third quarter of the ongoing football game. The announcers, officials, and fans on both sides would be a little confused and, probably, a little horrified. They would sure feel, shall we say, totally uncomfortable? As in imagine you were taking your family and your new date out to eat for the first time together, and that person happened to get blacked-out drunk and then publicly crap and piss their pants in the middle of dinner?
It’s just so strange, no one knows how to respond outside of giggling uncomfortably at Boehner. It took about five minutes for the main laughing jags and after-spasms to back off before I could calm down and write this
NBC — After a dizzying game of legislative ping-pong between the two chambers of Congress, a government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as the House tried to shift decision-making to a bipartisan “conference” of lawmakers from both chambers.But Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was insistent: “We will not go to conference with a gun to our head.”
Less than an hour before the funding deadline, House Republicans were set to formally request a bicameral committee late Monday evening to hash out some middle ground between the Democratic Senate’s “clean” government funding bill and the GOP-led House’s proposal to delay a key part of Obamacare and nix health care subsidies for congressional staffers.
Conference is a formal process where a committee made of appointed members of the House and Senate hash out variations in ledge the two bodies have approved or plan to approve. The mere act of appointing the members is potentially such a heated political issue, that the Senate GOP minority and especially the House majority wouldn’t dare to set up a conference on anything even remotely controversial. For good reason, in our system of governance, conference is the machinery of compromise, that’s what conference committees do, because that’s how democratic governments work. The Teaparty sees that democratic process, as indeed they view most government procedure, as evil. The House has members scared of a Teaparty primary, ergo they avoid conferences of any kind except on the most banal ledge.
In this teabagger dominated environment, a bill thanking former Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman for a charitable donation to blind orphans might make it to a conference committee to make both the Senate and House thank you language identical and thus the same bill, without causing a ruckus. Without some Teaparty loon going into cruz-control and making it into a outrage du jour, raising money and then running with it, to cut of his many equally sociopathic potential Teaparty primary challengers before they can do it. Putting anything to do with the budget in a conference, especially anything involving Obamacare, into this political gangland, would be like sprinkling rabid tigers with PCP.
It also tears open the barely scabbed over wound inflicted by the Senate ala the Ted Cruz show last week. Conferences usually take a long time and everyone has to work together more or less for bills. It’s such a strange, bizarre, so out there it’s near pathetic.
The scary and not so funny take away: John Boehner has absolutely no idea what to do. None. He is frozen, perhaps in fear, perhaps because of exhaustion, hell maybe he’s wasted and at this point I wouldn’t blame him. Or he may have lost his marbles once and for all. But either way, this won’t solve anything and Boehner may have just flat out given up.
In short, the GOP may have just imploded. My guess is the Speaker’s office gets something out before the morning news cycle gets cranking, when talking heads start asking this guy or that gal what they think of Boehner’s crazy conference request. That is not a question and answer session you as the speaker or as a GOP strategist want being passed around on live TV.