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Next Republican Leaders Must Stop Holding Themselves Hostage

One of the hallmarks of John Boehner’s speakership has been the complete failure of regular order in the House, despite his many promises for a “return to regular order.” 

Rather than move bills through committee, have Members move amendments and have up or down votes on Hostagethose amendments there has been a closed process in the Boehner-run House – especially on spending bills.  

Bills were for all practical purposes written in the Speaker’s office, moved only through the Rules Committee (Chaired by Boehner do-boy Texas Rep. Pete Sessions) and then submitted at the last minute on a take it or leave it basis to reluctant House Members. 

The result was not a check on the overweening ambition and lawless lust for power of President Obama, but a legislative branch that lurched from one crisis to another, even as House establishment Republican “leaders” constantly talked about the need to show voters they could “govern.” 

Yet back in 2010, just as the Tea Party wave election was about to elevate Boehner to the Speakership, this is what Boehner had to say about the lack of regular order when Democrats ran Congress and San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi was Speaker:

We need to stop writing bills in the speaker’s office and let members of Congress be legislators again. Too often in the House right now we don’t have legislators; we just have voters. Under Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, 430 out of the 435 members are just here to vote and raise money. That’s it. That’s not right. We were each elected to uphold the Constitution and represent 600,000-odd people in our districts. We need to open this place up, let some air in. We have nothing to fear from letting the House work its will-nothing to fear from the battle of ideas. That starts with the committees. The result will be more scrutiny and better legislation. (emphasis ours)

Boehner in 2010 was right – there was nothing to fear from the battle of ideas and more scrutiny from congressional committees.  

Unless, that is, you are one of the special interests that benefit from the Big Government alliance between congressional insiders of both political parties and Big Business. 

If you want the Ex-Im Bank to continue to operate to subsidize your exports to shady Third World dictators, if you want the “No Child Left Behind” program (originally authored by John Boehner we note for the record) to grow into Common Core, or if you want budget busting highway and farm bills, then the last thing you want is the battle of ideas and more scrutiny from committees and Members who will uphold the Constitution, vote their conscience, and represent the 600,000-odd people in their districts. 

And the reason you don’t want an open “battle of ideas” process that allows Members to uphold the Constitution, vote their conscience, and represent the 600,000-odd people in their districts is because more often than not under such a process the conservative ideas of less spending, less government and more liberty would win and Big Government would lose. 

The only way Boehner and his Big Government progressive Republican “leadership” team could possibly satisfy the demands of their paymasters in the Wall Street – Washington – Silicon Valley Axis was to constantly hold conservatives, and themselves, hostage to a seemingly endless series of government shutdown crises, where the only alternative given a vote was to cave in to the demands for more spending and more power for Obama. 

This was true on the fight to defund Obamacare, the various debt ceiling battles, the CRomnibus, the non-fight to defund Obama’s executive amnesty, the Corker bill ratifying Obama’s nuclear weapons treaty with Iran and a host of other issues large and small. 

As Republicans weigh the candidates in the coming leadership elections that will set the tone in the House for the post-Boehner era the most important quality they should look for is a commitment to regular order that will return each Member to his or her rightful status as a “Representative,” not a hostage to the special interests who benefit from government by crisis. 

The first test of whether or not the new House Republican leaders are willing to abandon Boehner’s policy of government by crisis and taking himself hostage is how the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government in the post-Boehner era is handled. 

If there’s a short term CR that goes through the first part of January 2016 and gives Congress time to work its will and set the stage for the presidential election with a conservative spending plan for Fiscal Year 2016, then that is a sign the new leaders are ready stop holding themselves hostage, abandon government by crisis, and that the Boehner era is truly over.  

If, however, the CR ends on December 11, 2015, the last day Congress is scheduled to be in Session before the Christmas holiday break, then you should understand that while the names may have changed, the failed Boehner government by crisis strategy hasn’t, and the need for a thorough house cleaning in the top ranks of the Capitol Hill GOP is stronger than ever.

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