Let’s Have a Conference!

One of the fascinating little wrinkles of the government shutdown saga is the sudden decision late last night by House Republicans to request a House-Senate conference over the CR–something the self-same House Republicans have systematically opposed when it comes to the broader budget issues addressed in House and Senate budget resolutions.

At First Read today, Chuck Todd reports that this idea came from the same hard-core House conservatives who have been forcing Boehner to keep going back to the well for Obamacare-disabling CRs. So that should put to rest any thought that the “conference” idea was aimed at some immediate compromise. Actually, Brother Benen noted yesterday that Rand Paul was pushing the very same idea on Face the Nation on Sunday.

So what’s up with this? I’m guessing it’s two things. The most obvious is the issue I discussed in my last post: the effort to bootstrap the “repeal Obamacare” drive into a difference-of-opinion topic on which Democrats are expected to compromise in order to keep the government open. But the second may be a trust factor: to keep John Boehner from reaching any quick deal or from abandoning the Hastert Rule and letting a minority of Republicans vote with a majority of Democrats in favor of a “clean CR.” A conference committee, if it were actually to occur, would take time, and presumably hard-core conservatives could get some of their number into the band of House conferees. But the fundamental reality is that those Republicans urging a conference are the least interested in actual compromise over funding levels absent Democratic concessions on Obamacare.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.