The Corner

Senate Republicans Look to Jam Boehner

Returning from their White House meeting with President Obama, some Republican senators said they are fed up with how Speaker John Boehner and the House GOP have handled the shutdown showdown and are ready to take charge of the debate.

“The House Republicans so far don’t want to get rid of the shutdown. I don’t know in what world we’re faring well under the shutdown, in terms of policy or politics. So, in that sense, yeah, I’d rather have the Senate” take charge, says Arizona senator Jeff Flake.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine is leading negotiations with Democrats over a bill to combine a government funding bill with the debt-ceiling increase along with repeal of the medical-device tax in Obamacare. House Republican leaders have shown a new sense of urgency to deal with Obama in part because of fear that Collins’s plan will gain steam, rolling the more conservative House position.

One scenario that would mirror how several standoffs between Boehner and Obama have ended since Republicans took control of the House in 2010 is for Senate Republicans to help pass a bill deeply disliked by House Republicans, after which political pressure would force Boehner to pass the bill largely with Democratic votes.

While the situation is tense, it does not appear acrimonious, and communication continues between top officials from both chambers. Senator Rob Portman said he met with House Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp last night after Camp attended the House session at the White House, and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said he had dinner with a House “principal” who had been at the session as well.

“There’s a lot of communication that’s taking place between both sides of the building,” Corker says.

“I think the Collins plan has had an impact here. I think people are intrigued by that plan as a way forward. On the House side, they’re having discussions too. Hopefully this merges at some point,” says Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

Although Flake and others indicated they want the Senate to take a lead role, Senator Dan Coats said their role will be limited given they are in the minority in the upper chamber.

“I think clearly the House is in the position where, given the divided government that we have, whatever’s proffered, if it can’t sell in the House, it’s not gonna sell. So, it doesn’t mean the Senate doesn’t have a role to play, but it’s a less major role than what the House has, for sure,” Coats says.

Collins presented her plan to Obama at the meeting, senators say. Obama offered comments but did not endorse it. The president is cold to the six-week extension to the debt ceiling Boehner has put forward and pushed the Senate Republicans on the issue. “The longer the better,” Flake says, characterizing Obama’s view.

The Senate Republicans’ meeting was described as “wide open” and lasted well beyond the hour that had been scheduled, although GOP whip John Cornyn attributed that to “long-winded people, Senators included.”

Obama indicated, as he has in public, that he is willing to address flaws in Obamacare but not in the current context of negotiating over the debt ceiling or government funding bill.

Graham says at one point he told Obama that he can’t expect Congress to surrender its constitutional authority on spending matters.

“I understand where you’re coming from, protecting the presidency,” Graham says, characterizing his remarks to Obama, “but you can’t tell the Congress, ‘You will reopen the government, you will pass a continuing resolution and you will pass the debt ceiling, and then I will talk to you.’”

“As a body, we can’t give that authority away. We can’t be told by the executive branch of the government that ‘you have to do what I say when it comes to how you fund the government and raising the debt ceiling.’ That’s not healthy for future Congresses. The whole check and balance situation will be undermined there,” Graham adds.

In another part of the discussion, Graham says, Obama and the senators discussed legislation to “repatriate” overseas income from U.S. corporations as one way to replace the sequester spending cuts enacted in the Budget Control Act.

Senator John Hoeven says House Republicans are discussing entitlement reforms as part of the negotiating framework they sent to the White House last night.  

Most Popular

History

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More
History

The 1620 Project

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were ... Read More
White House

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More
White House

Implications of the Flynn Pardon

President Trump granted a pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national-security adviser, today. Flynn had pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about conversations, during the 2016 transition, with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. Flynn’s pardon should bring to an end one gross violation of the ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More
History

Thanksgiving Is Not a Lie

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault. Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans. The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More

The Imaginary Trump

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is man who represents the age in which he lived. Whatever you may think of the age. Jackson embodied a generation of men who had risen and made their mark in a young country. He represented their desire for greater representation, even if it had costs for slaves and Indians. He ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Culture

On Being Grateful

My mother always enjoyed making Thanksgiving dinner. She took a traditional Southern woman’s pride in being a good cook, following her mother’s recipes, and my family made a rare display of kindness by declining to inform her that she was a fairly dreadful cook, one whose kitchen alchemy on the electric range ... Read More
Economy & Business

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More
Economy & Business

Shopping Superstitions

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses. This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ... Read More