The Corner

McConnell Cuts Boehner Loose

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is on the record saying House Republicans should pass the two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday. But McConnell may have also discovered the face-saving move House leadership has been seeking:

McConnell said that not only should the House pass the two-month package, but that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should appoint the conferees that Boehner has demanded to begin formal negotiations between the two chambers over how to lengthen the tax break for a full year.

“House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both,” McConnell said in the statement. 

Thus far, Reid and Boehner have staunchly refused to do either.

I continue to believe that McConnell is the flat-out best political operator in elected Washington. So if this is where McConnell is, I count it as prima facie evidence that the House Republicans are in a losing position.

McConnell’s suggestion that Reid appoint conferees in exchange for the House vote would give the GOP a bit of a fig leaf. If Reid agreed, and Boehner were to bring the bill to the floor and turn his caucus loose to vote their consciences, relying on Democrats to provide the bulk of the yeas, the political damage could probably be contained.

Unfortunately we’d still end up with a stupid policy.

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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