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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 28, 2012. Boehner voiced optimism that Republicans could broker a deal with the White House to avoid year-end austerity measures, saying on Wedn
Politico's Manu Raju and Jake Sherman analyze what they call John Boehner's "Senate first" strategy:
The same House Republican majority that spent the entire past two years haranguing Senate Democrats for ignoring piles of legislation has a new strategy.

Let the Senate act first — on nearly everything.

Whether it’s an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, renewing the Violence Against Women Act or retooling gun regulations after mass shootings across the nation, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is perfectly fine with sitting on his hands. The House GOP’s days of incessantly repealing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul are gone, as are their bills to eliminate obscure regulations.

The upside for Republicans, they say, is that a "Senate first" strategy forces Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 to take tough votes. The downside, they say, is that if the Senate does pass bipartisan legislation, it puts pressure on the House to act.

Both of those things are probably true, but I think calling this a strategy is overanalyzing the situation. The reason the House isn't taking the lead on immigration reform, the Violence Against Women Act, or gun control is pretty easy to understand: they just aren't priorities for House Republicans. And it's also not hard to understand why they aren't passing yet more legislation to repeal Obamacare: doing so would look idiotic after the Supreme Court ruling and the president's reelection.

To the extent that the House is passing fewer "message bills" than they did during the last Congress, the lesson is equally simple: it's a tacit concession that their agenda is not popular. Believe me, when House Republicans come up with a piece of legislation that they think is a political winner, they won't sit around and wait for the Senate to act.

All that being said, it will still be interesting to see how the House responds when the Senate does take action. As Raju and Sherman point out, Senate passage of The Violence Against Women Act provides an opportunity to find out the answer to that question. But on issues like immigration reform and gun control, the question at this point is less about how House Republicans might handle a hypothetical piece of bipartisan legislation and more about whether Senate Republicans will actually let anything pass.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Key Disctinction (18+ / 0-)

    There's "doing nothing" and then there's doing "less than nothing." The GOP seems committed to the latter. And yeah, they're the party of lockstep,'s a strategy.

  •  I think JB just threw up a little in his mouth. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, JML9999, a2nite, bear83, Aunt Pat, thomask
  •  Harry Reid should use the spaghetti approach (8+ / 0-)

    and throw as much at the House as possible.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:35:39 AM PST

    •  Fat chance.. Reid cannot even pass a budget. (0+ / 0-)

      You can hardly blame the House.. as stupid as their budgets have been, and as much shit as they have got for some of the proposals contained therein (Ryan's Medicare overhaul) - at least they have done their work.

      The Senate has no0t passed a budget for going on 4 years now.

      That is the vote that everyone should insist on next.. before the gun vote.. before anything.

  •  Doing nothing is both nt (3+ / 0-)
  •  How many times must we look (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Positronicus

    at that same stupid picture of Boehner?

    And please don't substitute that same repulsive closeup of McConnel. I don't need to view every pore in his face before breakfast.

    I'm begging you.

  •  Is drinking water a strategy? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Gentle Giant

     photo rubio_zps99401a53.jpg

  •  also (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Heart of the Rockies, MJB
    The upside for Republicans, they say, is that a "Senate first" strategy forces Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 to take tough votes.
    And by putting the focus on the Senate, takes (some of) the spotlight off of the intra-party, intra-leadership squabbles that have repeatedly embarrassed House Republicans.

    Nancy Pelosi: "We have a Democratic president -- Thank God!"

    by Newsie8200 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:41:52 AM PST

    •  Bonehead can't control his own caucus (0+ / 0-)

      Remember how Bonehead got humiliated when he couldn't get his own caucus to pass a tax cut bill a couple of months ago?

      Doing nothing allows him to avoid all of that.  All he has to do now is sit back and let the GOP House whackos say no to whatever the Senate passes.

      It's an admission that he is not capable of leading the GOP caucus in the House.

      Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:33:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  House Republicans coming up with a winning idea: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Gentle Giant

    What do you think we should do?

    I don't know...a protect the fetus bill?

    We've got three of those in the queue already.

    What about an admonition of Obama?



    What's wrong?

    My neice played Ozone for 105 points...triple letter on the Z and triple word.

    Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:42:00 AM PST

  •  This is a change? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, Aunt Pat, tb mare

    The house has done nothing for two years and will continue to do so. The only things that they will do is more of those lame "message" bills that will never pass the senate let alone a veto. They will continue to whine and cry and piss and moan and shit and groan and accomplish nothing.They have made their choice and now its time to rub their collective noses in the shit they dumped on the house floor and called it work.

    Give blood. Play hockey.

    by flycaster on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:43:53 AM PST

    •  I heard an interview on NPR yesterday (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      with a House member who was lamenting the fact that the House of Representatives hardly does any work at all.  

      I knew Boehner was too lazy to actually read the ObamaCare legislation, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.  Apparently he is too incompetent to do anything toward actually governing the country.

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:15:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Personally, I don't see the their strategy (3+ / 0-)

    as garnering that much blowback for Senate Dems.  I understand very well that some of these Senators come from Red states where immigration and/or gun control is contentious.  However, I think these issues can be controlled/directed by a skilled politician that can communicate with their constituents effectively.

    If the GOP thinks they're making the Senate Dems fall on their swords, I'm not seeing the reality in it. Seems to me like there's more downside for House GOP in a recognition of their inaction.

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
      I understand very well that some of these Senators come from Red states where immigration and/or gun control is contentious.  However, I think these issues can be controlled/directed by a skilled politician that can communicate with their constituents effectively.
      ...or red state Dems just vote against the party to show independence and lower their party support scores. Senators like Begich (who has generally been a decent Dem vote from a state as red as AK) were already on the record opposing certain policies supported by the rest of the Dem caucus, and they have every incentive to stick to their guns (so to speak) on those policies.

      Nancy Pelosi: "We have a Democratic president -- Thank God!"

      by Newsie8200 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:11:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's actually a smart strategy when your coalition (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, ahumbleopinion, MJB

    is insane.  Nothing his side initiates and can pass on a party line will get a sniff in the Senate as long as the party is built on nutjobs.

  •  Tough Senate votes are a good thing (6+ / 0-)

    Get 'em on the record, Harry. With their votes against VAWA, look at all the Republican senators who set themselves up for 'War Against Women' ads in their next election:

    2014 Election
    Cornyn (R-TX)
    Enzi (R-WY)
    Graham (R-SC)
    Inhofe (R-OK)
    Johanns (R-NE)
    McConnell (R-KY)
    Risch (R-ID)
    Roberts (R-KS)
    Scott (R-SC)
    Sessions (R-AL)

    2016 Election
    Blunt (R-MO)
    Boozman (R-AR)
    Grassley (R-IA)
    Johnson (R-WI)
    Lee (R-UT)
    Paul (R-KY)
    Rubio (R-FL)
    Thune (R-SD)

    2018 Election
    Barrasso (R-WY)
    Cruz (R-TX)
    Hatch (R-UT)

    Better yet, the 23 senate Republicans who voted 'Yes' set themselves up for a primary challenge from the right.

    Making them take a position by actually voting on stuff is a very good thing.

    Filibuster reform, 2013 - woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    by bear83 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:48:38 AM PST

  •  Or making a virtue out of necessity: (3+ / 0-)

    if Boner can't move anything out of the House without a civil war, then do nothing and call it a strategy or say it's based in some principle.  Of course, people didn't elect anyone to let someone else take the intiative on everything, but what else can he do?

    That's not even "gun control". It's more like "massacre control".

    by Inland on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:50:12 AM PST

    •  He COULD move stuff by letting the majority (0+ / 0-)

      of the house decide. But the fucking asshole Republicans will pass nothing (or nearly nothing) because they will bring nothing up for a vote that won't pass with just Republican votes.

      God but I hate every Republican in office and every fucking Idiot American who voted for one.

      "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

      by caseynm on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:52:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They started out with nothin' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    And the still got most of it left.

    HT Seasick Steve

    Help me to be the best Wavy Gravy I can muster

    by BOHICA on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:55:38 AM PST

  •  analogy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the whores blindly obeyed their deranged sugar daddies, doctor election told them they had multiple diseases and  need to be quarantined, right now they don't have the guts/brains to leave their pimps.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:57:38 AM PST

  •  Goldbricker-in-Chief (0+ / 0-)

    I think it's time to change his official title to Goldbricker-in-Chief.

    It would be really interesting to see how many billions of tax dollars he's wasted by keeping the House in session and not doing anything productive.

  •  Is Doing Nothing an Agenda or a Strategy? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ahumbleopinion, a2nite

    It is both. Their agenda to make Obama a "one-term President" having failed, they are employing the same basic stategy they have used for the past four years to try to insure that the record of this Administration contains minimal accomplishments.

    They did not hear the SOTU address wherein the President said to Congress, "Here's what we as a country need to do and why. Quit dicking around and start doing your jobs."

    "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

    by midnight lurker on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 07:58:59 AM PST

  •  "Stragenda" is the word you're looking for. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RadGal70, asm121
  •  Certainly not a strategy. At best, a stupid tactic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from somebody who hasn't figured out that a repeat of 2010 is very possible.

    However, they need to revisit that election and understand what it really was: a bunch of fed-up voters unhappy that their lives were going to hell and their leaders didn't seem to care one way or the other.

    The absolute worst time to bug out and "let somebody else do it" is when your country most desperately needs you engaged and contributing.

    We were mad at D's in 2010. Shaping up to be royally pissed off at R's in 2014.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:05:43 AM PST

  •  They are the party of NO good ideas, so do nothing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  All the more reason Dems should have reformed the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Losty, trumpeter, DSPS owl, tb mare, MJB

    filibuster when they had the chance.  Lots more pieces of legislation would be finding its way to the House, thus putting Boner and GOP if very uncomfortable positions.  Frequently.  As it is, they rarely have to actually respond to anything.

  •  "Just wait." - old strategy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I have been trying to get the Republicans to do something about high prices and housing ever since they came to Washington.  They are responsible for that situation, because they killed price control, and they killed the housing bill.  That Republican, 80th "do-nothing" Congress absolutely refused to give any relief whatever in either one of those categories.

    What do you suppose the Republicans think you ought to do about high prices?

    Senator Taft, one of the leaders in the Republican Congress, said, "If consumers think the price is too high today, they will wait until the price is lower.  I feel that in time, the law of supply and demand will bring prices into line. "

    There is the Republican answer to the high cost of living.

    If it costs too much, just wait.

    If you think fifteen cents is too much for a loaf of bread, just do without it and wait until you can afford to pay fifteen cents for it.

    If you don't want to pay sixty cents a-pound for hamburger, just wait.  That is what the Republican Congress thought you ought to do, and that is the same Congress that the Republican candidate for president said did a good job.

    Some people say I ought not to talk so much about the Republican 80th "do-nothing" Congress in this campaign.

    I will tell you why I will talk about it.

    If two-thirds of the people stay at home again on election day as they did in 1946, and if we get another Republican Congress

    like the 80th Congress, it will be controlled by the same men who controlled that 80th Congress--the Tabers and the Tafts, the Martins and the Hallecks--would be the bosses.

    The same men would be the bosses, the same as those who passed the Taft-Hartley Act, and passed the rich man's tax bill, and took Social Security away from a million workers.

    Do you want that kind of administration? I don't believe you do--I don't believe you do.

    - Harry S. Truman - Elizabeth, New Jersey, Oct. 7, 1948

    Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

    by Icicle68 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:12:10 AM PST

  •  From another perspective, Boehner is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Positronicus, rmabelis, RadGal70, a2nite

    adopting the correct strategy. Because his Party is split, he cannot advance anything major. He has to wait to respond to Senate bills, simply because he cannot risk having Democrats desert him when he needs their votes to pass a Bill. If I were in his position, I would do the same thing. No wonder he looked so miserable last night. He looked like a guy copping a plea at a corruption trial.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:13:57 AM PST

    •  Boehner doesn't control his own caucus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In order to get anything passed in the House that can be passed in the Senate he must have the votes of Democrats. If the Senate acts first he can always argue it is better for the party to have bills passed in both chambers even if he needs Democrats to do it. But the only bill the House can start must have majority Republican support. This means bills so extreme the Senate won't touch them.  

      •  Right. So you really can't blame him (0+ / 0-)

        for doing the logical thing, although it is a very narrow logic to be sure.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:10:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  if only Reid hadn't squandered his best (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    opportunity (actually, 3 of them in 2009, 2011 and 2013!) to reform the filibuster, we could have some "Senate first" action for the House to act on.

    Too bad he blew it.

    Maybe next time - when the GOP has the Senate.

  •  Like Moses....Boner will lead them to the Promise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite fuckers are on notice.

  •  Excuse me, but (0+ / 0-)

    are there not laws that must begin in the House?

    Talk about avoiding responsibility, and not doing your job!

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:30:47 AM PST

  •  Boehner waves the white flag (0+ / 0-)

    The only way Boehner can get anything through the House -- which is dominated by Republicans, who are in turn dominated by Tea Party morons -- is to let the Senate go first, de facto repealing the Hastert Rule, and splitting his caucus. That's what happened with the fiscal cliff. He'll get Democrats and the remaining minority of sane Republicans to vote for Senate bills.

    I can live with that.

    “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

    by Positronicus on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:35:00 AM PST

  •  NOTHING will happen. (0+ / 0-)

    Feinstein, Leahy, Levin, and the other dead weight Dems in the senate made sure of that by killing filibuster reform, and Reid let them get away with it by not forcing the issue.

    "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

    by caseynm on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:46:52 AM PST

  •  But appropriations bill have to originate in house (0+ / 0-)

    So it's a pretty lame-ass approach to governance.

    Oh, I'm being repetitious here. We already mentioned the words "House Republican 'Leadership'" so lame-ass is a given.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:49:59 AM PST

  •  It's an admission of failure to lead (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, ekgrulez1

    Boehner cannot lead.  And apparently the House Republicans don't want a leader or they would have voted someone else in as Speaker.

    Fortune forbid anything happen to Obama and Biden and we end up with Speaker Boneless as president. Gah.

    The road to excess leads to the palace of Wisdom, I must not have excessed enough

    by JenS on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:01:35 AM PST

  •  History shall be writ latge (0+ / 0-)

    When historians record the fall of the Republic, they will undoubtedly first refer to the failure of Congress as a governing institution as well is the GOP's abdication to the outliers, cultists and radicals.

    This institutional failure will include the refusal to support even GOP own proposals when the President challenged them to vote on them.

    The President did a masterful job in exhorting the Do-Nothings, not to necessarily support his proposals but at least vote them down. In this he gave his successor a platform to document the incapability of Republicans to govern....for the forseeable future.

  •  I just don't get it (0+ / 0-)

    Is there some big constituency of wife-beaters whose votes they're worried about losing?  Did they not get the memo that women can vote now?  Their objections make no sense - they're just giving us a free issue on which to run attack ads.

  •  This just shows everyone (0+ / 0-)

    what kind of Speaker and leader Boehner really is; passing everything to the Senate and bashing the President non stop. Real effective leadership on his part.

  •  Financial Treason Act (0+ / 0-)

    What this country needs and has needed ever since obama won his first Presidential Election is a Financial Treason Act.

    Basically when an elected official votes in such a way that on its face that vote appears to a Grand Jury to have been based on trying to derail the economy of the United States in the expectation that this will help his party in the next election, that elected person can be charged with Financial Treason and if found guilty by a Jury of his Peers, he/she not only goes to Jail for a period of not less than 20 years or more than 40 years he/she forfeits all past pay and pension rights.

    This is not a rant.

    It is a serious proposal.

    Governing is a serious business and we have to have a law that makes not governing seriously a serious offense.

    Let me know what you think.

    I think it is an idea whose time has come.

    •  Section 4, 14th Amendment (0+ / 0-)

       14th Amendment: Section 4. "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. ..."

      So if Congress refuses to deal with our National Debt, is it Treason? I think the US Constitution is pretty clear that addressing our debt is their responsibility. If we incur more debt to our deficit - some say as initially this will cost us $100 Billion, do we hold the members of Congress responsible?

      •  There is no question in my mind that many of the (0+ / 0-)

        actions of a great many elected Congress Persons has been nothing less than Treason against the United States and its people.

        If a foreign force had infiltrated the country and was trying to inflict the level of harm on it as these guys have been trying to do there is no doubt they would have been "Droned" by now and it high time we at least apply the rules of Due Process to these "Domestic Terrorists" which now are taking refuge in the halls of Congress.

        •  Failure of duty without remedy (0+ / 0-)

          There is no way to indict, arrest or even charge more than half of Congress with dereliction of duty or violation of section 4 of the 14th Amendment: dishonoring the Full Faith and Credit of the United States..

          When the Second Branch of Government breaches its oath of office and imperils the full faith and credit of the nation, you have a wrong without a remedy. This is Tyranny. Since the ancient laws of Hammurabi to the Common law, juriprudence detests a wrong without remedy. One can impeach and convict a President, Supreme Court Justice but the majority of Congress? Not a chance.

          This is why I have urged this President to file a Pre-emptory Writ with the SCOTUS to sit in Equity and en BANC in order to provide immediate relief to the Country. Equity Courts exist for the sole purpose of bringing actions where there is no remedy at Law.

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