Amid revolt, Boehner steps aside to avoid 'irreparable harm' to Congress | us news

Amid revolt, Boehner steps aside to avoid ‘irreparable harm’ to Congress

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Boehner’s poll numbers saw historic lows, stayed poor.

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner was his usual weepy self as Pope Francis spoke to a joint meeting of Congress. House of Representatives will be just as supportive of Israel, in general, and of Benjamin Netanyahu, in particular, as John Boehner ever was during his almost five years at the helm.

The 13-term Ohio Republican, second in line to the presidency, shocked his GOP caucus Friday morning when he announced his decision in a closed-door session. In today’s Republican Party, unabashed backing for Israel and whatever policy it pursues is like an oath of allegiance, an ideological foundation no less than family values or resistance to tax hikes.

An absolute majority of the House is required to elect a new speaker, not a simple majority — meaning the magic number of votes that a candidate must get is 218. Boehner, who struggled to hold together his fractured party, will exit his post with 72 percent of Republican primary voters dissatisfied with his job performance, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Friday. But the question of whether Boehner’s surprising resignation is good or bad for the Jews, at least those who currently manage Israel’s affairs, is far more complex. House Majority leader who replaced Eric Cantor following his 2014 re-election bid loss, is being viewed as a natural, leading contender to replace Boehner. A constant focus of conservatives’ complaints, Boehner was facing the threat of a floor vote on whether he could stay on as speaker, a formal challenge that hasn’t happened in over 100 years.

There’s little doubt that the proximal cause of Boehner leaving is the GOP’s internal fight over whether to do another government shutdown—this time, aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization that (at 45 percent) is currently viewed about three more favorably than Congress. A bloody battle for succession could divide the party, push it further to the right and diminish its stature among the general public, potentially damaging its chances in the 2016 elections.

That was being pushed by tea partyers convinced Boehner wasn’t fighting hard enough to strip Planned Parenthood of government funds, even though doing so risked a government shutdown next week. “It’s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution,” Boehner told a news conference several hours after making the announcement to his rank and file. “There was never any doubt I could survive the vote, but I didn’t want my members to go through this, I didn’t want this institution to go through this.” Boehner said he had planned all along to announce in November that he was resigning at the end of this year, but had not said so publicly. He’s had had a quick rise: In 2006, McCarthy (who previously served on the California State Assembly) won a congressional seat after being endorsed by retiring House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas. After emotional moments Thursday at the pope’s side, he woke up Friday morning and decided now was the time. “And I think, maybe most importantly, he’s somebody who understands that in government and governance, you don’t get 100 percent of what you want,” the president said. “But you have to work with people who you disagree with, and sometimes strongly, in order to do the people’s business.” “The honor of John Boehner this morning stands in stark contrast to the idiocy of those members who seek to continually divide us,” said Rep. The general background to Boehner’s decision, as he himself outlined in his teary press conference in Washington this Friday, is his Sisyphean battle against the GOP’s militant radicals, who came to view him as a collaborator of the timid party establishment and as a weak opponent of the detested Obama administration. Mark Meadows surprised everyone with a motion to vacate the chair, which Politico described as “an extraordinarily rare procedural move that represents the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner’s speakership,” going on to note: GOP leaders were taken completely by surprise.

About 44 percent of GOP primary voters also told the NBC/WSJ pollsters they were “very” dissastified with Boehner, and 36 percent said they wanted him immediately removed from his role, according to this week’s survey. Although it’s not certain who will succeed Boehner, the most obvious candidate would be the No. 2 House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, a genial Californian who was first elected to Congress in 2006. It was another show of the strength of the anti-establishment sentiment in GOP that has catapulted Donald Trump and others to the top of the party’s presidential race. During the 2013 government shutdown, which kept federal workers at home for more than two weeks in October, Boehner’s favorability plunged to historic lows.

While insisting that decision is up to fellow Republicans, Boehner declared Friday that “Kevin McCarthy would make an excellent speaker.” As he told lawmakers Friday of his plan to resign, Boehner also announced plans to schedule a vote on a government funding bill that includes money for Planned Parenthood before next week’s deadline. Some observers contend that this part of the GOP is less committed to Israel’s defense and is perhaps less enamored with American Jews, a suspicion that only bolstered by Trump supporter Ann Coulter’s infamous reference to “f…king Jews” following the GOP debate last week.

While the spending plan in its original form, which would have cut federal, non-security discretionary spending to levels not seen before the depression, was not approved, the fact that the budget passed was seen as a sign as GOP unity. 3. Boehner, who spearheaded Netanyahu’s controversial invitation to address Congress on the Iran deal in March, said Friday that he had already decided to resign last year but postponed his decision after Virginia’s Jewish Majority Leader at the time, Eric Cantor, was defeated in the GOP primaries by his Tea Party opponent, David Brat. Boehner, with his relaxed and sociable demeanor, love of golf, and well-known tendency to cry in public, Boehner was widely popular among House Republicans. Rachel Maddow represents a distinctly discordant view, having repeatedly run segments arguing that “John Boehner is bad at his job.” But it can be argued that Maddow is wrong to blame Boehner for problems that are much bigger then the office he holds, or even the GOP House caucus. It wasn’t just the GOP’s right wing that despised Boehner: Even though tea party Republicans may have been more vocal in their dislike of the embattled speaker, both the tea party and establishment voters’ unfavorable opinions grew at basically the same rate, by about eight points, during the shutdown, according to the Pew Research Center polls.

Though he is also known as a strong conservative, his tactics were never confrontational enough to satisfy the most conservative faction in the House. Nonetheless, as Taegan Goddard of Political Wire tweeted on Friday “Somewhere on K Street, Eric Cantor is weeping” and many American Jewish leaders are probably weeping with him. Boehner saw a small rebound in his favorability to pre-shutdown levels after the 2014 election, when Republicans strengthened their control of Congress. Wolf argued on Friday that McCarthy is “cut from exactly the same cloth” as Boehner and that he “has been responsible for many of the erroneous whip counts that embarrassed Boehner in the first place.” McCarthy has also faced serious heat from his party for saying he supports creating a legal status for illegal immigrants. Boehner’s decision removes the possibility of a damaging vote to strip him of his speakership, a scenario that grew more likely amid the clamor over a possible shutdown.

In 1998, Newt Gingrich resigned as Speaker, and from Congress, after the GOP lost seats in mid-term elections after intensely pursuing a Clinton impeachment agenda. Just days after the election, CNN reported, “Faced with a brewing rebellion within the Republican Party over the disappointing midterm election, House Speaker Newt Gingrich made the stunning decision Friday to step down not just from the speakership but also from Congress.” Gingrich’s replacement, Louisiana’s Bob Livingston, resigned just over a month later , before even taking office, after his own extra-marital affairs were revealed by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

His tenure has been defined by his early struggles to reach budget agreements with Obama and his wrestling with the expectations of tea party conservatives who abhorred his tendencies toward deal-making. Amazingly, Livingston, who had been part of Gingrich’s leadership team devoted to hounding Clinton from office, said in his remarks, “I want so very much to pacify and cool our raging tempers and return to an era when differences were confined to the debate, and not a personal attack or assassination of character.” Livingston’s deliberately low-key successor, Dennis Hastert, had some troubles in office, but managed to survive with dignity and reputation reasonably intact through eight years of leadership—the longest tenure ever for a Republican—until Democrats retook the House in the 2006 mid-terms.

Two years ago, conservatives drove him to reluctantly embrace a partial government shutdown in hopes of delaying implementation of Obama’s new health care law. He’s fiercely against abortion: McCarthy has called on Congress to immediately defund Planned Parenthood following the controversy surrounding secret video about the organization about its use of fetal tissue. 5. He’s against the Export-Import bank: McCarthy has spoken out against renewing the federal lending agency, which the GOP-led Congress allowed to go out of business this summer. But more deeply, it highlights the inherent dangers stirred up by running political campaigns as moral crusades, which simply cannot be sustained as a means of government in a secular, pluralistic system. It’s an issue that has divided the party, with supporters arguing it’s crucial for small American businesses and that the ban evens the playing field with foreign companies.

Although Boehner denied any direct link between the Popes’ call for unity and collaboration and his own decision to resign, the timing of his decision could hardly be mere coincidence. Speaker Boehner believes that the first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution and, as we saw yesterday with the Holy Father, it is the one thing that unites and inspires us all. One way or another, Boehner’s drama clearly eclipsed the Pope’s speech before the UN General Assembly and clearly shifted the media’s attention away from the Pontiff and back to politics. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, the three lawmakers founded the popular Young Guns Program which hopes to build the next generation of conservative leaders. 7. He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his Speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the Speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30.

There was some poetic justice in this, as the Pope’s own triumphant visit to New York, which once would have garnered far less attention, overshadowed the concurrent meeting in Washington between the leaders of China and the U.S., the world’s two great superpowers. Kevin Spacey learned a thing or two from him: The actor, who plays House Majority Whip Francis Underwood in the television drama “House of Cards,” shadowed McCarthy to learn more about the ins and outs of his jobs. “I don’t envy him. He’s a former deli-owner: After winning $5,000 from the lottery in California when he was 19 years old, McCarthy opened “Kevin O’s Deli,” eventually selling the business and using the funds to attend California State University in Bakersfield. 9.

The Catholic back-bencher who boycotted the Pope to show his displease with the Pope’s concern over global warming is decidedly out of step with American Catholics, but he’s much more in tune with Boehner’s caucus than Boehner himself is—and that is the root of Boehner’s problem. Boehner is presiding over a House divided—and sub-divided—against itself, and his real failure is simply to recognize that fact and face up to it, however much it might have required a “profile in courage.” It would have actually done his own party a world of good. He could have passed the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill, if only he’d been willing to do so with votes from both parties, rather than from Republicans alone. On the one hand, he gives lip-service to bipartisanship and responsible leadership, but on the other hand, he has repeatedly failed to act in that way.

So now, because of his failure, immigration is not an issue Republicans have helped deal with, it’s become the launching pad of Donald Trump’s campaign, which in turn has unleashed a whole new army of demons for the GOP to wrestle with in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. But if one thinks just for a moment about actually doing anything based on what Pope Francis had to say, then there’s a whole different reason for Boehner’s tears to start flowing again. Because the history of failed GOP speakerships touched on above is only an aspect of the deeper problem, which goes to the very nature of the party itself. Before the GOP rose to prominence, the virulently anti-immigrant American Party, commonly known as the “Know-nothings,” were the most promising party to replace the Whigs.

But the modern GOP has spent the last five decades courting those sentimentally opposed to its anti-slavery origins as “the Party of Lincoln,” and the last 10 years, at least, reviving the anti-immigrant sentiments on which the Know-nothings were founded.

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