A Family Conversation
Thursday January 8, 2015
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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) acted like a House Speaker and send forth word that the kind of naked disrespect shown to the leadership during Tuesday's vote would not be tolerated.
To make his point, Boehner had two of the 25 Republicans who voted for someone else kicked off the very influential Rules Committee: Republicans Daniel Webster, who challenged Boehner for Speaker, and fellow Floridian Richard Nugent who voted for Webster.
As one staffer explained it: The Rules Committee is designed to do the bidding of the leadership. There has to be some level of confidence that the Members of the committee will be team players. That holds on both the majority Republican side and on the minority Democratic side of the dias.
Rep. Randy Weber (R-Tx) voted against Boehner and for the price of it had his name removed as sponsor of, as reported by ABCnews.com "legislation related to the regulation of clean nuclear energy.
A fourth, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Ks), said an offered the chairmanship of a subcommittee of the Veterans Affairs Committee did not materialize.
As for the two dropped from the Rules committee, Boehner has left room for acts of contrition. Because of the huge Republican Majority in the House (246-188) the party split on Rules is 9 seats to 4.
But, when the Committee met to assign the rules for the early bills that were to come to the Floor, there were only 7 Republicans. The two seats vacated by Webster and Nugent were not filled by others.
Boehner said there would be "family conversations" and, he said:
"I expect that those conversations over the next couple of days will continue and we'll come to a decision about how we go forward."
Reporters and lobbyists who - like Kremlinologists in Moscow - follow Congress closely, were assuming that meant that the remaining 21 rebels should not consider themselves to be off the hook.
I am for this. I Tweeted that if I were advising the Speaker I would have urged the reconstitution of the Committee on the District of Columbia and assigned all of them to the coveted Subcommittee on Water, Sewer, and Sanitation.
Alas, I am not advising anyone so this very excellent idea will not be utilized.
Meanwhile President Obama issued what is known as a "Statement of Administration Policy" called a "SAP" by those in the know in Our Nation's Capital. In that SAP the White House declared the President would probably veto any measure that forced his hand on the KeystoneXL pipeline issue.
The House was scheduled to take that bill up on Friday. In the Senate it was awarded the bill number S. 1 to demonstrate how seriously the new majority over there takes it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) blasted the President's position saying
"threatening to veto a jobs and infrastructure bill within minutes of a new Congress taking the oath of office -- a bill with strong bipartisan support -- is anything but productive."
A test of bicameral cooperation will be whether the House and Senate can generate language for a Keystone Pipeline bill that gets to the President's desk. A test of President Obama's seriousness about cooperating with the Congress will be not whether or not he vetoes that bill, but whether or not there is any Administration input into what such a bill would look like that he could sign.
All those who believe this White House will suddenly develop collaborative skills raise hands. Put your hand down Mrs. Pelosi.
Before you get your knickers in a twist about a Presidential veto keep in mind that Bill Clinton vetoed 37 bills in his two terms and George W. Bush vetoed 10. The all-time champ is Franklin Roosevelt who in his three-plus terms vetoed a whopping 635 pieces of legislation.
For his part, the President is running around the country testing messages in his forthcoming State of the Union Address, scheduled for the evening of January 20th. Like a Broadway play, these out-of-town tryouts give the Administration a chance to tinker with the actor's lines, the order in which plot points are brought up, and how the whole package is put together.
Not so much a national conversation as a national vaudeville tour.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the ABC News coverage of the Speaker's actions, and to a list of vetoes by President from the House of Representatives.
Also a Mullfoto from a couple of days ago that demonstrates creative marketing.
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