Cleaning Things UpPosted: February 12, 2014
I do not often give a “well done” to Speaker John A. Boehner (R–Ohio) for his leadership in the House, but today I’ll give him a nod and a smattering of applause for getting fed up with his own party and getting something done. Yesterday the House approved a “clean” extension of the government’s borrowing authority, or in common terms, they passed a bill allowing for an increase in the debt ceiling. It was accomplished without amending any other elements to it and without creating another crisis such as the country went through last fall. Unfortunately, it still had its share of drama, at least in the Republican Party.
The bill passed by a vote of 221 to 201 with only 28 Republicans voting for it. Speaker Boehner made it clear that there would be no shutting down the government again this time and that the bill needed to pass sufficiently ahead of the government hitting the debt ceiling so as to remove the uncertainty and drama of the past several years. I hope that he determined this was necessary in order to insure the full faith in the word of the United States government, and not because we are approaching mid-term elections and most of the American voting public is fed-up with the shenanigans from last fall and he did not want to risk losing control of the majority in the House.
The Speaker worked hard since the start of the new year to find a suitable compromise that would bring in both Republican and Democrat House members to vote for the bill. He tried several different amendments to bring Republicans on board such as lifting the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) cut to military veterans benefits (see my post from 7 January 2014) without losing Democrats’ votes. It also had to be realistic enough that there would be a chance of getting the bill through the Senate and signed into law. He was unable to come up with any compromise positions on the bill because the extremely conservative elements in his party opposed any effort to raise the debt ceiling — even though that ceiling is necessary to pay the bills already authorized by the Congress.
In a surprise move on Tuesday morning, he told the Republican caucus that he was moving ahead with the clean bill and, essentially, letting the Democrats move ahead with actually governing the country.
What rankled me a bit, although I was happy they finally did what they should have done long ago, is that many Republican Congressmen wanted the debt ceiling raised knowing what the consequences of not doing so would be, but refused to vote for it because of fears that they would be challenged in this year’s primaries. As Representative Devin Nunes (R-California) put it (he was one of the 28 Republicans that voted for the bill); “It wasn’t exactly a profile in courage. You had members saying that they hoped it would pass but unwilling to vote for it.”
The Senate is expected to pass the same legislation (although just one hour ago a filibuster by some conservative Republican Senators was narrowly averted) and the President has declared that he will sign it. Now we can get on with the business of governing.