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: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.
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.
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.