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September 19, 2013 8:27 AM And So They Stumble Forward

By Martin Longman

Jonathan Weisman leads off with the Grey Lady’s coverage of the Tan Man.

After three years of cajoling, finessing and occasionally strong-arming his fitful conservative majority, Speaker John A. Boehner waved the white flag on Wednesday, surrendering to demands from his right flank that he tie money to keep the government open after Sept. 30 to stripping President Obama’s health care law of any financing.

There seems to be an uptick in “white-flag” analogies lately. House Republicans and their staff got quite testy with Sen. Ted Cruz last night, with one leadership aide telling CNN’s Dana Bash that Cruz has less balls than Texas state legislator Wendy Davis. (Is that an endorsement of Sen. Davis’s gubernatorial campaign?)

If you are interested in the mechanics of how the House plans to proceed, Pete Kasperowicz did a good write-up in The Hill yesterday. It’s all about self-executing rules and other such eye-blurring details. Most of you are probably more interested in the internecine slap-fight going on between the House and Senate Republicans.

I guess that the House members thought that Ted Cruz would take their effort to defund ObamaCare and make it his cause in the Senate, and maybe he will. But his first reaction was to note, correctly, that Harry Reid has the votes in the Senate to restore the funding for ObamaCare. Maybe for the first time, Sen. Cruz is being criticized for telling the truth.

A lot of people have been trying to tell the Teahadist Brigade the truth about the ObamaCare defunding effort, including the Speaker of the House. But, so far, it has been to no avail. Back to Weisman:

With much of the government set to run out of money at the end of the month — and run out of borrowing authority by mid-October — Mr. Boehner faced a choice: he could steer a middle ground and find a way out of his fiscal dead end with Republican and Democratic votes, or he could yield to a conservative movement to strip the Affordable Care Act of financing, unite his Republican majority around that war cry, and hope for the best.
House conservatives let Mr. Boehner know that any solution that could not attract a majority of the Republican conference could cost him his speakership. Divided Senate Republicans made clear that linking further government spending or a debt ceiling increase to gutting the health care law would never get through the Senate.

And, so, they stumble forward, hoping for the best. The House will attempt to pass a rule that will self-execute amendments from conservative Republicans Tom Graves of Georgia (to defund ObamaCare) and Tom McClintock of California (to prioritize interest payments in the event of a government shutdown). Assuming that passes, they’ll have a vote on final passage and send it over to Harry Reid. He’ll file for cloture to limit debate and cut off any filibuster. Some Republican(s) will object and Reid will have to wait a couple of days for the cloture vote to “ripen.” Then they’ll override the filibuster and pass a clean Continuing Resolution.

At that point, Speaker Boehner will be back at square one, but hopefully with a more compelling argument that the world is not filled with people riding ponies on rainbows.

And I didn’t even talk about the debt ceiling!

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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