Tag Archives: John Boehner

GOP House caucus stampedes lame-duck speaker

It’s no secret that the U.S. House of Representatives Republican majority at times can turn into an unruly bunch.

The TEA party faction, along with the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus, drove former Speaker John Boehner batty enough to make him quit.

Boehner’s successor, Paul Ryan, is getting the same treatment. The House Freedom Caucus helped torpedo a new farm bill for reasons that hardly anything to do with farm policy.

Ryan is a lame duck. He isn’t seeking re-election to the House from Wisconsin. Indeed, his speakership has been no picnic from the get-go. He now is finding it difficult to keep his own partisan troops in line, let alone getting any help from Democratic House members who don’t much like or respect him to begin with.

The farm bill got entangled with immigration, according to The Hill:

The House bill became inextricably linked with immigration after the Freedom Caucus demanded a vote on the conservative measure as moderates neared the 206 signatures needed to force a vote on a separate immigration plan that falls well short of the proposal pushed for by the White House.

Despite leadership offering the group of conservative hardliners a vote on the immigration measure in June, the members refused to back the legislation.

House conservatives seemingly want to poison an important aid to farmers and ranchers with an issue that ought to stand on its own.

As for the speaker, he told the country he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to seek the job he now holds. I guess he meant it.

Speaker Ryan’s remaining time as the Man of the House appears headed for a rocky conclusion.

Now it’s the House chaplain who’s on the hot seat

It’s not every day that the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives finds his or her name in the news.

The Rev. Patrick Conroy has just entered a new realm of celebrity status. House Speaker Paul Ryan asked Fr. Conroy to resign — but he hasn’t told the chaplain why he wants him out.

What’s going on here? Why push the House’s spiritual leader out of the way?

Fr. Conroy, a Jesuit priest, has served as chaplain since 2011; then-Speaker John Boehner, selected him.

Boehner left office. Ryan — another Catholic — succeeded him as the Man of the House. Now, Ryan wants Fr. Conroy to hit the road.

The New York Times reports: Father Conroy’s resignation is all the more contentious in Catholic circles because Mr. Ryan is a Catholic conservative, whereas Father Conroy is a Jesuit, a branch that is viewed by some as more liberal.

To his huge credit, Fr. Conroy has declined to engage in that discussion.

I certainly understand that we are functioning in highly contentious times these days. To ask the chaplain of the House, the fellow who opens congressional sessions with an invocation seems to take contentiousness to a new level.

Speaker Ryan not only owes the chaplain an explanation, but he ought to give offer one as well to the rest of us. He doesn’t need reminding, but I’ll do so anyway: The speaker works for us.

Those of us who pay for the People’s House deserve an explanation, too. Come clean, Mr. Speaker.

Cyber security remains a (pipe) dream

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has issued a dire warning, which is that it is a near certainty that Russia is going to try meddling in our 2018 midterm election.

Yep, just like they did in the 2016 presidential election, the event that the president of the United States — Donald John Trump Sr. — keeps denying publicly.

Mr. President, please talk to the CIA boss. He knows more about this stuff than you do.

However, I keep circling back to an initiative that was launched in 2011 in Congress. It was designed to improve cyber security and was to be led by my own member of Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry.

House Speaker John Boehner appointed Thornberry to lead a select committee to iron out the wrinkles in our nation’s cyber security system. It’s interesting to me that this was a GOP-only panel, comprising just Republican members of the House. I guess Thornberry and Boehner didn’t think there were any Democrats who could contribute to what ought to be a bipartisan/non-partisan concern.

Thornberry said in a statement after the panel’s work was done:

Cyber is deeply ingrained in virtually every facet of our lives.  We are very dependent upon it, which means that we are very vulnerable to disruptions and attacks.  Cyber threats pose a significant risk to our national security as well as to our economy and jobs.

At least 85 percent of what must be protected is owned and operated by the private sector.  Government must tread carefully in this area or risk damaging one of our greatest strengths — dynamic, innovate companies and businesses that are the key to our economy and to cybersecurity advances.

A “significant threat to our national security.” Yep, Rep. Thornberry, that is so very correct.

That threat presented itself in the 2016 election. There remain myriad questions about whether the Donald Trump campaign played a role in that threat. We’ll know the answer in due course, once the special counsel, Robert Mueller, finishes his work.

However, I do believe it’s fair to wonder: With all the work that Rep. Thornberry’s committee did to improve cybersecurity, did it do enough to protect our electoral system from the hanky-panky that came from this country’s preeminent foreign adversary?

I do not believe it did.

GOP turns tables on Democrats

John Boehner was a year away from becoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, but he stood on the floor of the House to express his intense anger at his Democratic colleagues.

They were rushing the Affordable Care Act into law, the then-House minority leader declared. Democrats were shoving this “down our throats,” he hollered. He bellowed that no one had “read the bill!”

The ACA passed with no Republican votes.

Now the GOP is in charge of Congress. Boehner became speaker in 2011 and served until 2015. Republicans sought to repeal the ACA many times during Boehner’s tenure. They failed.

Now it’s Paul Ryan’s House. Speaker Ryan is working with a Republican president to enact something called the American Health Care Act.

What is the GOP strategy being mapped out by Ryan and Donald Trump. Why, they’re trying to rush this to a vote. They’re trying to “shove this down the throats” of conservative lawmakers who oppose it. They aren’t bothering to persuade Democrats, who are lined up en masse to oppose the AHCA, just as the GOP locked arms against the ACA in 2010.

Is it good enough now for Republicans to do the very thing they accused Democrats — with good reason, candidly — of doing?

Of course it isn’t!

The president declared that repealing and replacing the ACA was his top priority. The House was supposed to vote tonight on the AHCA. Ryan backed away from the vote. It’s now scheduled for Friday.

The president says a Friday vote — up or down — will be the end of his negotiating a replacement for the ACA. He said today he’s going to “move on” to other issues. Whether he does will depend on who gets to him. Trump does have this way of changing his mind.

Has there been sufficient comment and analysis on this Republican alternative to ACA, which was trotted out less than a month ago?

Nope. Not even close.

One difference between now and 2010: You aren’t going to hear the current House minority leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, screaming on the House floor about not having enough time to consider this health care insurance replacement. Rep. Pelosi is actually chuckling at what she calls the president’s “rookie mistakes.”

That’s the major difference. The tactics of today’s Republicans certainly resemble those employed by yesterday’s Democrats.

Cyber-security honcho is strangely silent


There was a time — about a half-dozen years ago — when the then-speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, R-Ohio, called on my congressman, Clarendon Republican Mac Thornberry, to head up a cyber-security task force in Congress.

If memory serves, Boehner tasked Thornberry with finding ways to improve our cyber network protection against the kind of things that have been happening of late: hackers seeking to disrupt the U.S. electoral process. Those pesky Russians have been fingered as the major culprits in this cyber issue; President Obama has ordered a full review of what we’ve learned; Donald J. Trump has dismissed the CIA analysis as “ridiculous.”

So, where is the one-time GOP cyber-security expert on all of this? He should be a major participant in the public discussion. I haven’t seen or heard a thing from the veteran GOP lawmaker since the Russian hacking story hit the fan.

I checked Thornberry’s website to look for a statement from the congressman about what he thinks regarding this matter. I didn’t find anything. I looked at the link titled “Press Releases” and came up empty; I went through the “Issues” link, nothing there, either. I scanned the list of Thornberry’s essays on this and that and couldn’t find a commentary about recent events relating to cyber security.

Here’s the link to his website. Take a look.


Thornberry is a busy man, now that he’s chairing the House Armed Services Committee. He’s not superhuman.

However, Speaker Boehner gave Thornberry a big responsibility to craft a cyber-security policy that — one could surmise — was supposed to protect our secrets against foreign agents’ snooping eyes.

I’m wondering about the status of whatever it was that my congressman delivered to the speaker and whether any of his recommendations will become part of the cyber-security solution.

Hey, what about that Obamacare lawsuit?

I’m still waiting.

Remember the lawsuit that former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner filed to strike down the Affordable Care Act? It’s been filed. But I’m waiting for something to happen. Some decision. Some court motion.  Anything!


But wait! Boehner then quit the House and went into private life. He’s still living in D.C., or so I understand. I’ve heard some things about him wanting to become a lobbyist.


The lawsuit, though, has drifted into the mist. It’s been shoved way past the back burner.

Has anyone heard of its status? Does anyone at this point care about its status?

I have wondered about it already. An earlier blog post is right here:

GOP lawsuit takes another hit

I get that Obamacare, as the ACA has come to be known, still isn’t entirely popular. Yes, more American are insured now than ever before. The premium costs remain a problem.

But its legality? Is that really the issue, or was the lawsuit meant to drive home a political point?

Plaintiff No. 1, former Speaker Boehner, is now out of the picture. He’s no longer in public life.

I’m beginning to believe that the lawsuit is continuing to die a slow death … somewhere.

No ‘new evidence’ found to implicate Clinton …


So, do you think the battle has ended in the fight to use “Benghazi” as a tool to derail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s march to the White House?

I wish. It will continue full throttle.

The U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi has concluded its expensive and highly partisan probe of the former secretary of state’s role in that terrible tragedy that erupted on Sept. 11, 2012 at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Four Americans died in a chaotic firefight that night. One of them was Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Then-House Speaker John Boehner convened this committee to get to the truth behind what happened. The panel, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, called dozens of witnesses, plowed over the same ground repeatedly and then finally concluded that they cannot find any “new evidence” that Clinton did anything wrong.

Sure, they found plenty with which to criticize the administration. The military was ill-prepared to deal with the terrorist attack on the compound, the panel said. The administration didn’t do enough to protect the staffers who got caught up in the frenzy, it concluded.

In the end, though, it has determined that Clinton wasn’t culpable, that she didn’t engage in a cover-up.

Oh, but now she’s running for president of the United States. Rest assured that her foes are going to continue to question the manner in which she responded to the emergency.

And, oh yes, we have those e-mails and Clinton’s of a private personal account to distribute State Department messages. The FBI is investigating that matter.


This has been an expensive endeavor, costing an estimated $7 million. Many of us — me included — are quite convinced that Speaker Boehner wanted to find something that would implicate Clinton as she sought the presidency. The panel came up short.

But for those who are looking and lusting for more dirt to fling at the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, they likely will take some “comfort” in the knowledge that questions will linger as long as there are enemies of the former secretary of state around to raise them.

Still, I’m glad this select committee’s work is finished.


Cruz turns insult into a compliment


Didn’t you just know that Ted Cruz was going to turn the former speaker of the House’s comments about him into a compliment?

Sure you did.

The junior U.S. senator from Texas is “Lucifer in the flesh,” according to former Speaker John Boehner, who also called Cruz the “most miserable son of a b****” he’s ever worked with.


Cruz’s reaction. It just proves he’s a real “outsider.”

The Republican presidential candidate is proud of running as an outsider, even though he’s worked on the inside for all of three-plus years. He was elected to the Senate in 2012 in his first race for elective office ever.

He has taken pride in his ability to get under people’s skin. He’s called the Senate majority leader a liar; he’s questioned the commitment to the military of genuine war heroes; he sought to shut down the government in a failed attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

What a guy.

Boehner quit the House because he had grown fed up with legislators like Cruz.

Hey, it’s a badge of honor, according to the Cruz Missile.

Let’s try to set this into some perspective.

The federal government is a complicated piece of machinery. It requires knowledge, skill, nuance, diplomacy, tact and, oh yes, the ability to compromise on occasion.

Cruz keeps harping along the GOP primary campaign trail that he isn’t going to compromise on anything. He sounds for all the world like one of those lawmakers who sees the folks on the other side of the aisle as enemies, not just adversaries.

Sure, the other side has its share of haters. Florida U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat, comes to mind immediately. He’s got about as much actual experience in the federal government as Cruz, but he manages to shoot off his mouth whenever the cameras are rolling.

He’s the clown who said he’d file suit against Cruz to challenge whether the Canadian-born senator is constitutionally qualified to run for president.

Memo to Grayson: He’s qualified.

Back to Cruz.

He’s a self-proclaimed hotshot with little legislative accomplishment to show for all his fiery rhetoric.

He can proclaim his outsider street cred all he wants. However, if he intends to work with the very people he condemns — namely his colleagues in the legislative branch of government — then he’s got to build some relationships that so far simply do not exist.

Boehner spills the beans on Cruz


I guess the proverbial cat is out of the bag regarding Ted Cruz.

His relationships with fellow lawmakers appears to be, well, in shambles.

Former House Speaker John Boehner calls the junior U.S. senator from Texas “Lucifer in the flesh” and the “most miserable S.O.B” he’s ever known.


Yep, and to think that Cruz thinks he can work with the legislative branch of government to enact whatever agenda he proposes if he’s elected president of the United States.

I get that Boehner is just one individual. I also get that Boehner left public office in 2015 after serving a tumultuous tenure as the Man of the House. The tumult, though, seemed to come as much from the TEA Party wing of the GOP as it did from Democrats who sat on the other side of the aisle from Republicans who control Capitol Hill.

Frankly, Boehner’s critique of his former legislative colleague isn’t surprising. Others have offered biting commentary about Cruz’s time in the Senate. They are critical of his grandstanding, showmanship and his theatrics.

Perhaps they are annoyed in the extreme at Cruz’s insistence on criticizing the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party — while serving within that very establishment.

The wackiness of this primary campaign is continuing at full throttle.

Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have formed a non-aggression pact to deny Donald J. Trump the GOP presidential nomination. They’re tag-teaming in this desperate move to clear the paths for each other to take on Trump in selected remaining primary states.

Trump’s standing within the Republican Party is, well, tenuous.

One of the men who seeks to topple Trump is a politician who engenders the kind of spite that a former leading public figure has just revealed.


Speaker fails to perform ‘basic’ task


Paul Ryan spoke the truth when, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, he said the federal government must perform its basic function, which he said is to approve a budget.

Now that he’s speaker of the House, Ryan is finding matters are getting complicated.


Speaker Ryan said he lacks the votes to approve a federal budget.

He’s battling the TEA Party wing of the GOP, which wants to stick to the sequester provision that allows across-the-board cuts in many government programs.

Oh, the divisions within the Republican House caucus are deep and wide — and they might be getting deeper and wider.

What’s the speaker to do? How does he get his fellow Republicans to speak with a single voice? Isn’t that what leaders do?

Well, he’s finding himself in the same predicament that bedeviled his predecessor as speaker, John Boehner, who ended up getting so fed up with the TEA Party that he gave up the speakership — and then quit the House of Representatives.

Governing involves compromise. It means all sides give a little. Sure, they can cling to their principles.

The speaker, though, is unable to lean on House Democrats to bail him out. Why? That toxic environment on Capitol Hill has become seemingly terminal.

Government cannot function under those conditions.