Tag Archives: speaker of the House

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.


Intrigue builds around Speaker Ryan


Oh, how I love the intrigue that’s building around House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Will he “save” the Republican Party by emerging in Cleveland as the party’s compromise candidate for president of the United States?

Is the speaker going to toss aside every one of his (half-hearted) statements of non-interest in seeking the presidency?

This is fabulous! I am not going to predict what Ryan will do, but it certainly has me licking my chops at the chaos that would develop if the speaker actually jumps in.

Ryan keeps saying most of the things that would suggest he’s not going to run. But there remains wiggle room in every one of his so-called statements. The room ain’t huge. He’s not going to shake his booty while saying these things.

Every pundit since shortly after the Civil War keeps waiting for the so-called Shermanesque statement. You know what I mean. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman said, “If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve.”

Everything the speaker has said so far falls so far short of that categorical disavowal of any interest in running for the presidency.

He told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt today that “you have to run for president to be president. I am not running for president. Period. End of story.”

He is “not running for president.” Isn’t that what he said? It’s tantamount to the standard dodge that pols use when they don’t “intend to run.”

Let’s parse that for a second. I take that to mean that Ryan “is not running” today, in the present tense. He says not a single thing about what he might do this summer.

The only possible circumstance that is going to quell this “draft Ryan” talk is if Donald J. Trump wins enough delegates to sew up on the nomination on the first ballot.

Let’s remember that the speaker said he didn’t want to be speaker, either. Then the Republican House caucus drafted him to take the job as the nation’s top GOP elected official.

And the intrigue will continue.

Hey, these guys got along, too!


The politics of the moment has this way of inflicting a case of selective amnesia among politicians.

Take last night’s 12th — and possibly final — Republican Party presidential debate with Donald J. Trump, Rafael Edward Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich as providing an example of that peculiar malady.

One of them (I can’t remember who) brought up President Reagan’s famous buddy-buddy relationship with House Speaker Tip O’Neill. The two men — one Republican, one Democrat — worked well together.

Sure they did. I honor them for that cooperation.

So did a couple of other well-known pols. Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich also managed to find common ground when the need arose. And it did, particularly as it regarded the need to balance the federal budget.

None of these current GOP candidates, though, mentions that political partnership.

We all know why that is the case, of course.

It’s because the president’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, wants to ascend to the office her husband once occupied.

Why, we just can’t give Bill Clinton any props for doing what the current president and the current congressional leadership seem unable — or perhaps unwilling — to do.

I’m the first to acknowledge that the Clinton-Gingrich relationship never evolved into the personal public friendship that Reagan and O’Neill developed.

The Gipper and the Tipper would share some spirits once they were off the clock, setting politics aside; it’s been reported widely how they would swap stories between them and laugh at the foolishness of the day.

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of similar moments of non-political fellowship involving Bill and Newtie.

However, they certainly did form a valuable political partnership during the time Gingrich was speaker. It’s understandable, I suppose, that the Republicans running for president would choose to ignore it.

I’ll just have to rely on Hillary Clinton to remind the rest of us how bipartisan cooperation can work.

She was there, too.



How about other families, Mr. Speaker-to-be?


Paul Ryan wants to be speaker of the House on the condition he be allowed to spend ample quality time with his family.

Agreed, young man. You deserve it. So does your family.

But here’s a snippet of a Facebook post by left-leaning former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich about whether Ryan believes all American families deserve to spend that kind of time together:

“Paul Ryan has made a condition of his taking the House Speakership that he get enough time with his family, including three school-age kids. ‘I cannot and will not give up my family time,’ he says. I commend him for his dedication to work-life balance (years ago I left Bill Clinton’s cabinet because I didn’t have enough time to spend with my then teenage sons). But I wish Ryan felt other Americans deserved the same. Members of Congress have paid sick leave, but Ryan has repeatedly voted against legislation to give federal employees paid parental leave. And he and his fellow Republicans have blocked legislation that would provide all workers with paid maternity leave and paid sick leave. Ryan’s 2014 budget would have cut federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income families.”

Well, congressman? Will you change your tune?


Does anyone want the speaker’s job?

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., talks about the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, part of the House GOP energy agenda, Wednesday, June 6,2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When a politician becomes the butt of late-night comics’ jokes, well, that quite often spells the end of his of political ambition.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the bad form to suggest that the House Benghazi committee was formed — in effect — to torpedo Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming president. He then followed that with a string of nonsensical statements about the former secretary of state’s tenure.

The joke machine was then turned on … full blast.

Today, McCarthy said he is dropping out of the race to become the next speaker of the House; John Boehner wants to leave Congress and the speakership at the end of the month.

It now looks as though he’s going to stay on a while longer.

Why? Because, his Republican Party leadership team is in shambles.

McCarthy bows out

Some of us out here are utterly dumbstruck by what’s happened back in our nation’s capital.

McCarthy had a fight on his hands to become speaker. Two TEA Party insurgents, Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Virginia, were running against him for speaker.

It’s true that McCarthy didn’t help himself when he made the statement about the Benghazi committee’s mission. In truth, he merely muttered what many of us out here beyond the Beltway believed all along, which is that the GOP formed the panel precisely to undercut Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Boehner, McCarthy, Benghazi panel chairman Trey Gowdy all deny that is their intent.

Uh, huh. Whatever you say, gentlemen.

Meantime, the lower congressional chamber is looking for a new Man of the House.

Does anyone want this job? Can anyone do the job?

Presumptive speaker, um, ‘speaks’ the truth

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., talks about the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, part of the House GOP energy agenda, Wednesday, June 6,2012, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The man presumed to be the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives managed quickly to reveal what many of us have suspected all along.

It is that the Benghazi committee formed by Speaker John Boehner was intended to torpedo the presidential campaign chances of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

So said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy the other day when he was talking about Clinton’s sagging poll standing. He “credited” her decline to the formation of the Benghazi panel and its continued investigation into the fire fight that resulted in 2012 in the deaths of four brave Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

GOP critics hit back at McCarthy

Some congressional Republicans aren’t happy with what McCarthy said. They have called his assertions inappropriate and have demanded that he apologize to Clinton for implying a partisan motive in forming the panel in the first place.

The attack was a terrible tragedy. Clinton has acknowledged it. Some in Congress, though, keep insisting that there was some sort of cover-up, a conspiracy, a calculated lie in reporting what happened that night at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Clinton has said there was no cover-up. That hasn’t suited the GOP investigators, who keep hammering at the issue.

Boehner is leaving the House at the end of the month. The House is expected to vote next week on a new speaker. It’s presumed that McCarthy will get the gavel.

Is this what we can expect from the new Man of the House, more partisan targeting?


Boehner is burning key congressional bridge


John Boehner is showing some spunk now that he’s a declared short-timer in the halls of Congress.

The speaker of the House of Representatives announced his planned resignation from Congress, effective Oct. 30. He’s weary of the constant fighting with TEA Party members of his GOP caucus.

Then there’s word he might become a lobbyist after waiting a year, per House rules for former lawmakers.

So, what does he do? He starts torching the “false prophets” who gave him so much hell as he tried to manage the House’s legislative agenda.

Those “false prophets” well could become potential sources for the clients he would represent lobbying for their interests in the halls of Congress.

What’s up, then, with the speaker burning that key bridge?

It might be that Boehner could spend the next year campaigning for more moderate and, dare I say, reasonable Republicans. Those individuals, then, could be his target audience as he starts lobbying them for legislation favorable to whomever he hopes to represent.

Speaker Boehner has liberated himself from the shackles of trying to please the multi-faceted elements within his own political party, let alone trying to find common ground with congressional Democrats, who are angry with him for kowtowing to the TEA Party in the first place.

You go, Mr. Speaker!


Government shutdown looming … maybe

government shutdown

Oh, how I wish I could be as serene as some of the pundits out there about the prospects of a government shutdown in the wake of John Boehner’s stunning resignation.

The speaker of the House is leaving office at the end of next month. Between now and then Congress is going to vote on some funding issues that involve possibly the very issue of a government shutdown.

The TEA Party wing of Boehner’s Republican Party won big with the speaker’s resignation. He’s been battling the yahoos on the far right for years. He’s had enough, so he bailed.

That empowers the TEA Party types. It strengthens their hand with the new speaker, believed to be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Does he want to wage war with the TEA Party faction? Hardly.

He might find it more difficult to resist them than his predecessor did.

Planned Parenthood is in the TEA Party sights. They think shutting down the federal government — which, by the way, does a lot of things for other people as well — is a good way to get back at the agency for what TEA Party lawmakers say is its callous disregard for human life; it’s the abortion thing, you know.

Government to shut down?

This kind of political hostage-taking is not in keeping with congressional responsibility. Given that so many of the TEA Party faithful in Congress are too young to have been around when the GOP tried this tactic before.

It blew up in their face. It will do so every time.

If only they’d realize the folly.


Congressional GOP divide appears to widen


John Boehner’s shocking departure from the House speakership likely has exacerbated the dispute between the “establishment” and TEA Party wings of the Republican Party majority that controls Congress.

TEA Party loyalists have cheered the news. Boehner’s buddies have jeered it.

What’s more, Boehner’s friends and allies have struck out at the TEA Party wing over its continued obstruction of issues that Boehner sought to pursue during his tenure as the Man of the House.

Allies lash out

This comment came from House Ethics Chairman Charlie Dent, R-Fla.: “Any jackass can kick down a barn door. It takes a carpenter to hang one. We need a few more carpenters around here. Everybody knows it.”

Do you think Dent’s an unhappy man?

Congress still might shut down the government over, say, Planned Parenthood. The righties still are angry over the Iran nuclear deal. Boehner’s governing instincts have led him to seek when possible to work with moderates and even Democrats on occasion. Those on the right and far right will have none of that.

So, they got their wish when Boehner announced his intention to quit his Ohio congressional seat.

We all ought to stay tuned to learn whether the TEA Party wing of the GOP can actually govern.


Speaker provides a serious stunner


John Boehner likely didn’t intend to do it, but this morning he managed to rip much of the attention away from the man — Pope Francis — who spoke Thursday to a joint session of Congress.

All the speaker did was … announce his resignation from Congress effective Oct. 30.

Speaker drops bombshell

Although the speaker isn’t the kind of politician many of us generally could support, compared to many others within his Republican Party, he became a rational voice among the dwindling ranks of others like him who call themselves Republicans.

“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love,” Boehner said. “It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.”

The turmoil wasn’t likely to abate any time soon. From my vantage point, it looks for all the world that the speaker declared today he’s had enough of the infighting that has plagued his efforts at running the House of Representatives.

What’s next? I guess Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the favorite to succeed Boehner. Will a new speaker be more beholden to the TEA Party wing of his party, the wing that Boehner once referred to as nut cases — or something to that effect?

Boehner’s instinct always seemed to work with Democrats, not against them. He has become hamstrung by the ideologues within his party.

Truth be told, I’m sorry to see John Boehner pack it in.

Another truth, though, is that I am surprised he lasted as long as he did.