House Republican Caucus

Boehner’s Last Stand

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

Well, you know. Because:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT03), circa July 2014.  Uncredited photo via The Hill.House GOP leadership races took new twists and turns on Monday, just days before rank-and-file Republicans head behind closed doors to pick the next Speaker.

Outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) postponed elections for majority leader and whip at the behest of conservatives who argued that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) might lose the Speaker’s race and end up keeping his current job.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) held court with reporters for nearly an hour, capping a three-day media blitz to promote his underdog bid for Speaker.

(Wong)

No, really. What about this isn’t Classic … Speaker … Boehner?

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Wong, Scott. “Fresh twists roil House GOP races”. The Hill. 5 October 2015.

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The Bouncing Boehner Blues (Monkeydelica Mix)

Don’t let the hug and kiss between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) at the first session of the 114th Congress fool you. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Follow the bouncing ball: Despite looking much like other failures of John Boehner’s leadership, what happened with the recent DHS standoff is actually rather quite rare, and even still in comparison to the rarity of the frequency with which the Speaker of the House absolutely botches his job.

Close enough.

Jeffery A. Jenkins, in explaining how that works for the Washington Post, brings what for most of us is a vocabulary lesson:

Boehner’s ongoing struggle with the conservative wing of his caucus is well known. But Friday’s vote was unusual. In fact, it almost never happens. Here’s why.

During his time as Speaker, several majority party failures have occurred, as Boehner has ignored the informal “Hastert Rule” and allowed legislation to go forward when he didn’t have a majority of GOP support. This resulted in what is known as a “roll” — when a majority of the majority party opposes a bill that ends up passing. Notable examples of rolls since the beginning of 2013 have included the revision and extension of Bush-era tax cuts (bundled into the “fiscal cliff” deal), Hurricane Sandy Relief, and the Violence Against Women Act. These examples have been written about extensively. Rolls also feature prominently in political science scholarship, such as the book “Setting the Agenda” by Gary Cox and Mathew McCubbins.

In ignoring the Hastert Rule, Boehner bucked conservative opposition and relied upon Democratic support to pass legislation – which hurt his reputation as a party leader in the short run but preserved (in his estimation) the overall Republican brand name in the longer run.

But what happened Friday was different. It wasn’t a roll, but what we might call a “disappointment.” That is, Boehner had the support of a majority of his majority, but the bill ended up failing. This was because he lost more than 50 members of his caucus and was unable to corral more than a handful of Democrats to help pass the legislation.

Perhaps this is an occasion to make the pedantic point about the state of civics education in these United States. In order to be fascinated by Jenkins’ subsequent discussion of disappointments―he and colleagues Andrew Clarke and Nathan Monroe have apparently figured out that they are “extremely rare”―one must first comprehend the basic components; most are out of their depth well before they ever get to learning what a roll is. That such occasions are remotely significant? Well, that is complicated, or something, so why can’t the oppositional politicians we all voted for just get along?

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America’s Wang: The Curt Clawson Saga (continued)

Detail of 1921 map of Florida, including Fort Myers and Lee County, in Florida's Nineteenth Congressional District.

Detail: Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., carries a Bible for as ceremonial swearing-in with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 25, 2014.  (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)Okay … so … right. Following up on an earlier item, Rep. Curt Clawson (R), the second-string backbencher from Florida’s Nineteenth, apparently figured out that he might have committed something of a teensy gaffe. One only wonders how many staffers and colleagues needed to try before the errant congressman clued in.

But Clawson is a clown straight out of a Silverstein poem. Or, as Steve Benen notes:

The dust has obviously settled and Clawson eventually did the only thing he could do.

Clawson won a special election last month to replace Trey Radel, who resigned following a cocaine bust. The political novice, who was a businessman and college basketball player before running for office, apologized in a statement sent to our Gannett colleague, Ledyard King.

“I made a mistake in speaking before being fully briefed and I apologize. I’m a quick study, but in this case I shot an air ball,” Clawson said.

This might have been a more straightforward apology without the “being fully briefed” comment – the congressman really shouldn’t blame his staff for this one – but the apology otherwise gets the job done.

It is ironic nearly to the point of silly. Then again, Clawson is the Tea Party understudy to the guy who managed to get chased out of Congress for cocaine. Still, though, we might set aside the superficial aspect of Benen’s critique. Everybody on the Hill blames their staffers for not being able to read their minds and know what idiotically simple and obvious things the politician needs to be told. If we wish to be superficial, we might also remind that it’s a bit more than an “air ball”. But think about it for a moment. This singular collapse of awareness and competence is such that Clawson did not even bother trying the non-apology. And, yet … (more…)

America’s Wang: Rep. Curt Clawson (R) and the Good People of Florida’s Nineteenth Congressional District

O! smarmy one!

“It’s extremely uncommon for foreign officials to testify before Congress under oath. Even so, it’s unclear if at any point Clawson realized his mistake, despite the existence of a witness list distributed to the various members detailing Biswal and Kumar’s positions. Clawson’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“During the hearing, he repeatedly touted his deep knowledge of the Indian subcontinent and his favorite Bollywood movies. None of his fellow colleagues publicly called him out on the oversight—perhaps going easy on him because he’s the new guy.”

John Hudson

Until last week, if you had heard of Rep. Curt Clawson (R), the congressman from Florida’s Nineteenth Congressional District, it probably would have been because he was the second string, the backup, the special election favorite to replace fallen Tea Party angel Trey Radel.

That was then. John Hudson of Foreign Policy explains what boosted the Bonita Springs backbencher’s profile:

In an intensely awkward congressional hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, freshman Rep. Curt Clawson misidentified two senior U.S. government officials as representatives of the Indian government.

The two officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are Americans who hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively. Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about “your country” and “your government,” in reference to the state of India.

“I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” the Florida Republican said. “Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”

Apparently confused by their Indian surnames and skin color, Clawson also asked if “their” government could loosen restrictions on U.S. capital investments in India.

Yes. Really. And what really hurts is that we all know it doesn’t end there.

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