So the legislative chamber that launched this whole fortnight (or more) of madness by trying to “defund Obamacare” now officially can’t do anything on the key fiscal issues. It can’t even organize a dignified quasi-surrender with a nasty chaser or two. Here’s the insider account from National Review‘s Jonathan Strong (I guess Robert Costa took the night off or is writing the Definitive Account):
Referring to his plan to preemptively send the Senate a House-passed bill, Speaker John Boehner told his conference this morning that he’d “rather throw a grenade than catch a grenade.” But with his right-wing troops abandoning him again, it was the speaker who was left holding the bomb.
After a day of furious negotiating with fellow Republicans over how to tweak a bill he had unveiled in the morning, it was left to stunned members of his leadership team to confirm to reporters that the vote had been canceled….
“It’s all over. We’ll take the Senate deal,” says a senior GOP aide. Senator Mitch McConnell’s office quickly noted to reporters that the Kentucky Republican would be taking back the lead.
A key moment in the fight came when Heritage Action announced it was “key voting” against the bill. Support was already flagging, and the decision made up the minds of many members sitting on the fence.
“People are thinking about primaries, they really are,” says a GOP chief of staff.
In theory, of course, Boehner could refuse to allow a vote on a Senate deal on Hastert Rule grounds, and it’s a good bet that few House Republicans will vote for it. But nobody seems to have much stomach for a continuation of the fight as it would exist going forward. The Wall Street Journal editorially told Republicans last night that “it’s time to wrap up this comedy of political errors.”
There will be plenty of time for recriminations in the future, but I think Josh Barro speaks for a new conventional wisdom in summing up the House GOP’s performance:
The only stunning thing is that anyone still looks at House Republicans and says: “You know what would be great? Giving these people more power over public policy.”
Roughly one-third of this caucus thinks hitting the debt ceiling and shutting down the government are great strategies to try to stop Obamacare. The other two-thirds of the party has realized all along that this strategy sucks, but they could not find any way to stop their party from implementing it — even though these “reasonable” Republicans outnumber the crazies.
In that sense, ending its role in this fiasco in a non-vote was perfectly in character for the House GOP.