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I am increasingly pessimistic about the chances that the government won't be shut down tonight. I simply don't think that Boehner has the ability or will to control his caucus and let a "clean" CR bill pass after they've now made such a big deal out of it.

With that said, perhaps there is a slight chance that Boehner just decides to screw it and bring the Senate CR to a vote (which, like the Immigration bill, would have the votes to pass), likely giving up his Speakership in the process. Certainly at SOME point, it seems, the House will relent (as they did during the Clinton years) and Boehner will be forced to pass the CR that's on the table, perhaps again, risking his Speakership.

So given that at some point, whether before or after a shutdown, it seems that Boehner's Speakership is on the line, I began to wonder exactly what the process was for this, and if perhaps there were some very small possibility of a power play by Democrats if indeed Boehner were to be removed. So let's dive into this thought experiment, if you will.

First of all, despite the constant threats of Boehner possibly losing his Speakership, I wasn't even sure such a removal was possible. Some googling brought me to this article at Think Progress. To quote from it:

If Boehner’s caucus wants to depose him, the House Rules allow this to happen. According to Jefferson’s Manual, a 19th century procedural manual that has been largely incorporated into the House Rules:
A Speaker may be removed at the will of the House, and a Speaker pro tempore appointed.
A resolution declaring the Office of Speaker vacant presents a question of constitutional privilege, though the House has never removed a Speaker. It has on several occasions removed or suspended other officers, such as Clerk and Doorkeeper. A resolution for the removal of an officer is presented as a matter of privilege.
So it is indeed possible to remove the Speaker from his or her position. To elect a new Speaker there would be a new election in the House, which, as always, would require a majority of the entire House to vote for a Speaker. I'd expect the Tea Party crazies of the GOP to nominate someone one of their own, which doesn't really help matters for the few theoretical "moderates" who don't want the government shut down or for the US to default on its debt. Voting for one of their crazy anarchists would essentially be voting for these things, so, assuming that there are actual "responsible" Republicans, maybe the Democrats could strike a deal with some of them to elect a different Speaker.

Let's stipulate a few things here: Nancy Pelosi is not an option. Yes, I like Pelosi, but she's enough of a GOP Boogeyman that there's no way a deal could be struck with her as Speaker. Going one further, my guess is that a non-Republican Speaker would also be a non-starter. So my guess is that if this were even remotely possible, it would still have to be a Republican Speaker from one of the few that would be interested in, you know, actually governing.

So could the Democrats be convinced to basically put all their weight into voting for a Republican Speaker theoretically interested in, shall we call it, a Responsible Governing Coalition? This would be a major lift for Democratic leadership to pull off and it's extremely unlikely any Republican would volunteer for this role, but maybe there's a chance? Interestingly, the Speaker of the House isn't even required to be a member of Congress (according to Wikipedia), so maybe there's someone that could sort of act as "mediator" in the House without threatening to crash the economy every few months?

I really don't know.. I'm just really frustrated by how ridiculous this all is and while I obviously want Democrats to win, I'd really prefer some semblance of responsible government in general, even if it meant letting the Republicans keep the House. Maybe that's an oxymoron and we're just totally screwed until the Dems can take back the House, but I'm not optimistic of that happening any time before 2016 and possibly not before 2020. I'd like to have a few years where I don't expect the economy to teeter on the brink to the whims of congress, please.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good post (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dzog, eztempo

    I do wonder what would be the best possible outcome of a loss of Boehner as speaker. A Tea Party crazy would make the already chaotic situation even more ungovernable and unpredictable.

    Is there a moderate Republican who could work with the Democrats to at least keep the government running and the bills paid until the next election.

    I have given up entirely on getting any legislation through.

    Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

    by coral on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:25:50 PM PDT

  •  His popularity is suspect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wreck Smurfy, eztempo

    Last year, during the primaries, I used to visit Redstate to get their take on how things stand. They HATED the Congressional leadership with the burning heat of a thousand suns; if the Senate bill passes the House, they'll be crying for blood with torches and pitchforks held high!

    •  I stop by there every day and it is pretty sad (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob, a2nite, eztempo, Kingsmeg

      They are melting down. One of my all time favorite comments was after Cruz had just said a vote for cloture was a vote for Obamacare, then 100 Senators voted for cloture. One of the Redstaters:

      Cruz voted for cloture after saying it was a vote for Obamacare. I'm so confused. I don't know what to think right now.

      "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

      by voracious on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:38:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the challenge is finding someone who (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dzog, Just Bob, a2nite, eztempo

    could actually receive a majority of the votes in the House and that's likely why Boehner will continue to be Speaker.

    I am not sure that Boehner at some point has to bring a clean CR to the floor. He can at least wait the two weeks until the debt limit hits.  However, my guess is that a clean two week CR bill will pass both the House and Senate in the next few days. This will set up the big showdown linking the budget and the debt limit.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:26:25 PM PDT

    •  If Democrats are united... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And there's theoretically enough votes in the GOP caucus to just pass the clean CR... If the Democrats and those same GOP reps voted on the same House Speaker, that'd be enough votes.

      •  leshrac - but who would that be? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        What Republican in the House could put that coalition together? There is no possible way that any Republican would allow a Dem to be Speaker.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:27:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It would have to be an R without ambition. (0+ / 0-)

          There would be no lamer duck in America than the Republican Representative that presides over a House "coalition of national unity" with the Democratic leadership ... and those that take on jobs as Whips would be similarly doomed forevermore to never be committee chairs, or whatever else they may want to do once the crisis is over.

          The more I think about it, the less likely a Coalition for Sanity seems possible.

    •  The RWNJ bubble is sufficiently airtight ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      followyourbliss, a2nite, Kingsmeg

      ... to prompt most of these lunatics to think they will win this thing. Rand Paul said as much a few days ago, and Michele Bachmann is elated that they got exactly what they wanted. So, the tea-hadis, at least, are united in the notion that they are on the ascendant in this gambit.

      I see this as Reagan's monster finally breaking out of its chains and causing as much destruction as possible before ultimately flaming out (trapped in the proverbial windmill). Bringing down the government, or even the world economy, is just the culmination of the pro-war, anti-government philosophy that Reagan projected. For a faction that has been waiting for their William Wallace moment for decades, creating the ultimate "crisis opportunity" - a la Shock Doctrine - probably seems a winning tactic.

      There was an effort, early this year, to oust Boehner and install a more RWNJ-friendly Speaker. It failed, both on votes and on the lack of a clear alternative for the job. So you may be right on the idea that Boehner stays where he is, simply because no one else in the crazy faction that really wants the job (Cantor would take it if Boehner stepped down, but he doesn't count as one of the crazies). Still, being king of wasteland, if all this plays out in the worst way possible, seems a small ambition, even for The Orange One.


      "God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

      by dzog on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:13:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pelosi is an option, I think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flevitan, eztempo

    You need to turn 17 GOPers who are either going to get Tea Party primaried out of office anyway, or who have secure districts and are not insane, or who are ready to leave at the end of term.  The idea that any sane GOP member who could draw Dem support wants to become speaker is unlikely--Boehner is not weak because he is utterly stupid, he is weak because the usual forms of House discipline do not apply to the Tea Party, which is conducting jihad, not legislation.

  •  I think that Boehner IS that moderate (7+ / 0-)

    non-teaparty non-crazy that you speak of. He just can't deal with them. I'm not sure anyone can. They are anarchists.

    "You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody." - my dad

    by briefer on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:33:18 PM PDT

  •  willie brown managed to pull it off in CA (5+ / 0-)

    when the GOP had a slight majority in the state leg but was deeply internally divided between moderates, business conservatives, and the ascendant reactionary types, after the 1994 election.

    i wouldn't put it past pelosi to pull it off, or to engineer dems helping a republican speaker willing to pass consensus legislation until '14. difficult, but far from impossible, especially if the big money people decide the crazies and their shutdown games are hurting their bottom line.

  •  The only way Boehner gets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to keep his gavel AND see that the government is funded is if 17 Republican House members can be found to sign a discharge petition on the Senate bill.  I am not holding my breath on that.

    With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:34:46 PM PDT

    •  Not likely either. Coalition not Discharge. (0+ / 0-)

      I think that the Democrats can, and should, hold out for a full coalition.

      No Republican can sign on to a discharge petition in the current environment.  They'll never win in a Republican primary ever again.  A fair number of the non-crazies will decide not to run again in 2014.  And I think a fair number will switch parties.  But the current GOP leadership is not in a position to make this happen, actively or passively. So a majority made up of the GOP caucus is really incapable of climbing down from the high branch they're perched themselves on.

      Between the switcher and the quitters, I think we can get to 17 Republicans who will support a compromise Speaker.  This will take some time -- I don't see the federal government reopening soon, and the debt limit will hit soon as well -- but the people who are causing the most trouble for Boehner are more or less immune from party pressure or pressure from the business community (much less the majority of citizens).  They belong to the Koch Bros. and their kin, who will take care of them in 2014.  So the only thing that can give is the non-Tea Party faction of the GOP caucus.  And give they will.

      It won't be pretty to watch.  Even for us, I think.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:44:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republican leadership (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Kingsmeg

    Is cut from the same cloth of the Watchtower Society leadership ,one political in name ,the other religious in name ,that  both take unrealistic  stance on issues of the day

  •  Boehner can become Mr. Speaker whenever he sees (0+ / 0-)

    or smells the blood of victory.  He is a very skilled tactition. He can also start to cry, his beig ace in the hole.  Women can't, dare not use it, but Little Jonnie can and to great effect but will it have impact to get a deal.  No the far right will have to step back and they can't now.  They do not know the first thing about war:  he who learns to walk away lives to fight another day.  They will not walk away to re-group so they have chosen political martyrdom, so be it.

  •  On another post I proposed a pool on when Boehner (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wreck Smurfy, followyourbliss

    will appear as a falling down drunk on the Speaker's Platform.  The timing of this drunken scene may help hasten the appearance of a new speaker.  That could be part B of  my pool

  •  I'm Trying to Imagine How a Speaker Elected With (0+ / 0-)

    considerable Democratic votes could be a stronger leader of Republicans than Boehner.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:52:57 PM PDT

    •  Well, not a stronger leader of the Republicans... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Obviously not, as they would not be the choice of most Republicans. But a Stronger Speaker of the House (as far as being able to pass legislation), I don't see why not.

    •  Most likely result (0+ / 0-)

      Possibly with a Republican member as Speaker, but effectively a Democratic Party dominated majority.

      Boehner can't get the government reopened and prevent a default on debt with his current majority.  And even pro-Republican portions of the business community can't put up with the economic chaos this is going to create.  So deposing the current speaker by building an alternate coalition, or waiting for Boehner to fold by offering (1) a clean vote, and (2) his resignation look to me as the most likely outcome.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:48:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does the will of the House require a vote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and, if so, what would happen if the Democrats decided to keep Boehner as Speaker?

    In other words, could all of the Democrats and enough Boehner loyalists derail any coup?

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 02:59:36 PM PDT

  •  The only reason we will have this shutdown... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    followyourbliss, a2nite, eztempo

    is so Boehner can keep his gavel. As much harm as a 2-3 day shutdown will do to many Americans, it`s not much skin off the back of Teapartiers and an easy bone for Boehner to throw them.  Once enough R congress critters get heat from back home then there will be a bill with some token face saving item attached but ACA stays in tack and on track.  If Boehner is deposed we more than likely get Cantor who is a miserable piece of work. A week from now all is well as we stumble to the next R manufactured crisis. No wonder Boehner has to drink!

    Politics is like driving.... (D) forward, (R) reverse.

    by Tribecastan on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:08:07 PM PDT

    •  Even Cantor is tainted (0+ / 0-)

      I think it's unlikely that Boehner can save his job.  He can't end the shutdown without infuriating his base.  And I don't think he can act as a front man for a Democratic Party dominated coalition.

      Either he brokers a compromise with the Democrats and quits, or the Democrats get 17 Republicans to join a "unity coalition", and they depose Boehner.  But I don't see any alternative that opens the government and prevents default where Boehner is still speaker.  He's done.

      And while Cantor has been playing games with the nut cases, being in the leadership is going to disqualify him as well.  Ironically, he's made himself unacceptable to everybody as an alternative.  The Tea Party won't have him.  And the Democrats won't want to deal with him either.  He's done.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:55:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What say do the Democrats have in choosing House (0+ / 0-)

        leadership? Republicans don`t give a rats ass if the Dems don`t want to deal with Cantor. But you might be right about Boehner being done. But if he is done, and he knows it, why not spare the country and introduce a clean CR? I think he still hangs on by letting the baggers have their shutdown. Even some of the crazziest of the crazzies know it looks awful if the Republicans have to overthrow leadership in the midst of a "Partisan" battle. I think we will have an answer within the week though.

        Politics is like driving.... (D) forward, (R) reverse.

        by Tribecastan on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 08:23:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They can't govern with their majority (0+ / 0-)

          So it's not whether "Republicans give a rat's ass".  There are no Republicans.  There are the fanatics, and there are their enablers.  Some of the enablers are vulnerable in 2014, and they know it.

          The government needs to reopen at some point.  Default either needs to be prevented, or at least limited -- the business community that dominates the GOP will demand it.  But the business community can't compete with the Mad Billionaires now that the Supreme Court has made it impossible to limit the money they can spend.  So the business community is no longer in control of the situation.

          The crazziest don't care about the shutdown.  They want the shutdown, and given their relationship with reality, it's going to take a lot before they "know it looks awful".  They'd as soon believe in global warming.  While they can't make the government do anything, they can keep the House from doing anything, including pass any kind of budget.

          If the corporations want this fixed, they need the majority to change.  A coalition will solve their problem.  Nothing they can do will fix the Republican caucus.  It's a lost cause.

          The only alternative majority possible is the Democrats plus 20 or so GOP refugees -- people who know they will not be reelected, or that are willing to switch parties.

          Give it a while.  I don't see any dynamic that gets the current GOP caucus to change course.  Once that becomes clear, people will start considering some unusual alternatives.  From lack of an alternative.

          Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

          by mbayrob on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 08:56:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  can Boehner kick House R's out of the R caucus??? (0+ / 0-)

    like, could he start kicking the Tea Baggers literally out of the caucus and off of their committees, until there were 2 separate R factions, both smaller than the Dems? (he could start with the MOST rabid and work his way back toward sanity...)

    to the point that the Dems are the majority again and can elect anybody THEY want Speaker???

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:16:38 PM PDT

  •  They get worse so whomever replaces Boner (0+ / 0-)

    Will be worse.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:29:13 PM PDT

  •  I, too, wonder who'd replace Boehner (0+ / 0-)

    It's a thankless job for a Republican, these days, and Cantor stepping up to fill the office would be no better at all, as far as improving governing. Politically he'd be several shades worse than Boehner when it comes to so many issues.  He's more Tea Partier than "moderate," and proved he's willing to risk nuclear contamination of his own damn district rather than vote for Federal help for citizens facing disaster.

    -- I wonder if the Teahadists would even support Cantor?  He's stained with "Establishment," after all.  They may insist on someone even more radical, and a rudderless batch of "moderate Republicans" would go along with them in the absence of a strong alternative. --

    In any case, Democrats would be wise to strike a deal with Republican moderates BEFORE letting Boehner fall in order to be certain of a moderate replacement.  Otherwise, today's circus would just be prologue to another two years of utter disaster.

    •  Strike a deal. But from a position of strength (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't see a solution to the current impasse that doesn't have at least tacit Democratic support.  But I don't think they need to give that support for nothing.

      The solution is a Democratic Party dominated majority, probably with a GOP front-man.  Something like this happened in the UK after the First World War, when Ramsey McDonald of Labour was the figurehead at the head of Tory dominated coalition.

      This is their mess.  We will do right by the country if we don't make it too easy for the current leadership to escape the consequences.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 05:00:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whoever is Speaker should remember that he or (0+ / 0-)

    She (someday) is Speaker of The House of Representatives, not Speaker of the Republican (or Democratic) Party. The Majority Leader is someone different, Cantor presently. The Speaker's  job is not supposed to be a totally partisan job. Bills should pass if the majority of Representatives think they should pass - not if the majority of the majority think they should pass. This pisses me off.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:49:01 PM PDT

  •  Close, but I expect slightly different dynamics (0+ / 0-)

    The procedure you name to remove Boehner requires "the willing of the House", i.e. a majority vote.  Since this includes the Democratic minority, this is pretty unlikely, since I don't think it serves the interests of the Democrats.

    But that said:  Boehner has no good choices.  I don't think he can end a shutdown and keep his job.  Not because there will be formal vote.  He'll lose his job because his fringe will make his job even worse than it is now.

    Boehner, though, is really the only person who can end this idiocy.  He can allow a clean vote.  But it will be the last thing he does as Speaker;  I expect he will resign shortly thereafter.

    wu ming's analogy of Willie Brown (speaker of the CA Assembly in the 1990s) is a good one.  I think that the only solution before the 2014 elections is effectively a coalition government -- an alliance of the Democrats with a minority of the GOP majority, with some relatively bland conservative Democrat or innocuous non-Tea Party Republican as speaker. It will be a Democratic leadership in all but name -- the GOP portion of the coalition will be grossly outnumbered, a junior partner.   Since any Republican who joins this coalition will get guaranteed a Koch-funded primary opponent (with post-Citizen United unlimited funds), expect a fair number of GOP reps to announce they will not run again, and a few of them to switch parties.  There's no compromise for any of the GOP reps without pain:  Citizens United, gerrymandering and impediments to non-Republicans voting will perversely cause the GOP more trouble in 2014 than it will hurt the Democrats.  Karl Rove and other GOP strategists have screwed their own party in a way I don't think anybody suspected or understood until now.  The crazies are pretty safe, and the non-crazies are going down either from their right or their left.

    I would never has guessed a year ago that 2014 was going to be a wave election favoring our side.  But I think that the longer this keeps going, the more likely it becomes.  We need to make sure that we recruit well for both the House and the Senate, to be ready even in places where we should not have a chance.  Because in many cases, we may well be able to take seats that no one thought possible.

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:32:00 PM PDT

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