It’s ultimately up to senators to decide whether to reform their chamber’s dysfunctional rules, especially when it comes to filibuster abuses, but they’re not the only ones who want some say in the process.
On Wednesday, President Obama threw his support behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) reform efforts, which was a move likely intended to rally Democratic support. Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) weighed in with a very different perspective.
Shortly after 5 p.m. today, John Boehner’s office released a statement pre-condemning a change to the filibuster. The key threat: “Any bill that reaches a Republican-led House based on Senate Democrats’ heavy-handed power play would be dead on arrival.”
In other words, if a Senate majority passes legislation, but the Speaker doesn’t like how the legislation was passed, the House won’t even consider it. How constructive of him.
As a practical matter, it’s worth keeping in mind that bills approved by the Senate Democratic majority are probably “dead on arrival” anyway in the Republican-led House. For that matter, it’s also pretty likely that Boehner is bluffing – in the unlikely event there’s legislation he wants to pass, and it was somehow approved by the Senate, it’s hard to imagine the Speaker trashing it purely out of spite over Senate procedural questions.
Regardless, Boehner’s comments yesterday reinforce a larger question about whether the Republican leader is ”the most reasonable, responsible person” in Washington, as he recently identified himself.
Just over the last week or so, the Speaker said he wants to resolve the fiscal fight by going after health care reform, wants to get a debt-reduction deal without providing any real details, fully intends to deliberately hold the global economy hostage (again) unless his arbitrary and non-negotiable terms are met, and now promises to kill all Senate legislation passed through procedural mechanisms he doesn’t like.
The 113th Congress ought to be a joy to watch, right?
As for the fate of filibuster reform in the upper chamber, the outcome is still in doubt, as “nine Democratic senators sit on the fence about the proposed reforms.”