Ouch. House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) has a hideous job on any day,
trying to keep his fractured conference together, but yesterday was one
for the history books. In conceding on the payroll tax extension package
the Senate had passed and his conference had opposed all week, BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE
made clear he had fought for fighting's sake, and that doing the right
thing isn't always easy — which he reiterated several times. But it was
clear he knew his conference has reached the point of diminishing
returns with their lonely, losing payroll tax cut battle.
indications that tensions arose between House GOP leaders over this
fight, and that Boehner should have known last Friday, when the
two-month payroll tax cut extension was first introduced behind closed
doors, that it would present problems for his conservative members. Yet
Boehner allowed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellFive fights for Trump’s first year Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road AACR’s march on Washington MORE (R-Ky.), with
whom he works quite closely and has known for many years, to believe
that passing a bipartisan bill and leaving town was fine. He was bucked
by his members on Saturday, then chose to stick by them as they walked
off a political cliff.
Yesterday he made clear, without House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorBrat: New ObamaCare repeal bill has 'significant' changes Overnight Energy: Flint lawmaker pushes EPA for new lead rule House staffer, Monsanto vet named to top Interior posts MORE (R-Va.) or House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) at his side, that he had called off this fruitless fight — putting down the foot he had held back all week. Boehner has always used a light hand with this restive new Tea Party-backed freshman class and the senior conservatives who join them on most votes. He has allowed many votes to fail so he could show them, rather than tell them, that they don't have the votes to get what they want. Until the House GOP members collectively accept this reality, they are at risk of future fumbles like this one.
This mess returns in January, a New Year’s legislative hangover. The truth is no one had found agreement for a 12-month extension of the payroll tax cut and that tricky task awaits the two parties in days. In 2012, Boehner will try to lead his conference, as they head toward the election in November, toward a record of governing instead of brinksmanship. Will they follow him?
WHO WILL BE THE IOWA SURPRISE? Happy new year from Ask A.B. We will see you on Thursday, Jan. 5.