Top Links: The dirty word that scares House GOP conservatives: ‘conference committee’

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, following a Republican strategy session,...
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, following a Republican strategy session,...
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Top story: “Conference committee” is paper to “Hastert Rule’s” rock, and sending a farm or other bill to one could — could! — be the weapon that fights the “Walking Dead” running the House.

  • House Republicans leadership are in a quandary. No matter what they do — no matter how many knees they bend upon — they just can’t please their most conservative members when it comes to the farm bill. Stripping ALL the food stamp money out of it? Not good enough. (Bloomberg)
  • Worse, the Jim DeMint-affiliated Heritage Action — which can put money where so many mouths are — is now backing their sit-and-pout routine. (Heritage Action)
  • Unnamed GOP aide: “If House Republicans brought up a Heritage policy idea word for word, Heritage Action would find a way to oppose it.” (Katrina Trinko)
  • Now, it’s not a majority holding up the action on the farm bill. No, it’s 62 of the most conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives. And that’s out of 435 total members. (Swampland)
  • So how does that happen? Via something we talked about Tuesday, the House’s unofficial ability to filibuster itself. (msnbc)
  • Essentially, if a majority holds onto what’s called the Hastert Rule — a magical land where a majority of the majority stick together like the very best friends that anybody could have — they can call the shots. Jokes aside, that is, of course, what any majority does. You don’t get to stay a majority by always voting in the minority, after all. (National Review)
  • Yet, these are not normal times for Republicans. They already have broken the Rule (well, “rule”) three times. And that’s because they are fighting a civil war against people who seem amenable to eating their own in primary after primary. I mean, if anyone is wondering why zombies are so popular in media, here’s example #535. (Andrew Rafferty)
  • And thus, 62 dedicated “walkers” are enough to make the rest of the roughly 234 Republicans — including one chain-smoking leader — fear for their own survival. There is hope, though. (There always is). And that hope comes in the form of what’s called a conference committee. Just ask Heritage Action. The key line in that short press release is that “Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a naked attempt to get to a conference committee with the Senate.” (Heritage Action)
  • Yes, the conference committee. The Far Right fears the legislation getting to a joint Senate-House meeting because — well, frankly, anything and nothing can happen in one of those confabs — but it’s better odds than the “nil” we’re looking at today. (ProQuest Congressional Service)
  • Again, anything can happen in conference. It’s difficult even to get to conference. Senate rules allow three separate opportunities — three! — to filibuster the separate motions it takes to go to conference. (Congressional Research Service)
  • In fact, that’s exactly what prevented Majority Leader Harry Reid from setting up a budget conference in April. (The Hill)
  • However, the GOP “walkers” appear to be politically astute on the conference issue. Because the 66 U.S. senators who passed that body’s version of the farm bill are six more than they need to break any filibuster. (Senate)
  • And, as an aside, remember it was 68 for the immigration bill. (The New York Times)
  • But if you can get to conference and then get out of conference, what are the odds that the House passes the bill as well? Well, if you’re already broken the Hastert rule once — four times, really, now — why not again? (Wonkblog)

Top Links: The dirty word that scares House GOP conservatives: ‘conference committee’

Updated