President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have sat down for negotiations on more than a few occasions, though I'm not sure either policymaker would say their chats have been especially productive. In fact, the Republican leader has indicated he intends to get the new Congress and the president's new term off on a curious foot: by declaring that he'll no longer negotiate with Obama directly.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is signaling that at least one thing will change about his leadership during the 113th Congress: he's telling Republicans he is done with private, one-on-one negotiations with President Obama.
During both 2011 and 2012, the Speaker spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in the hopes of striking a grand bargain on the deficit.... In closed-door meetings since leaving the "fiscal cliff" talks two weeks ago, lawmakers and aides say the Speaker has indicated he is abandoning that approach for good and will return fully to the normal legislative process in 2013 -- seeking to pass bills through the House that can then be adopted, amended or reconciled by the Senate.
Hmm. Boehner's first term as Speaker led to arguably the worst and least productive Congress in American history, and his plan for the next two years is to deal less with the White House?
Actually, yes, and to a very real extent, I imagine plenty of Democrats will be delighted.
Obama regularly offered the Speaker overly generous offers, which were routinely rejected by Boehner's right-wing caucus, only to be followed by a compromise that looked better than the president's last offer. If the two no longer engage in one-on-one talks, from a progressive perspective, that's likely to improve the eventual outcomes of the various GOP-created crises.
But I'd still like to hear more about Boehner's thoughts on returning to a "normal" legislative process.
The Hill's report noted the role of "regular order."
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said ... he was encouraged by Boehner's commitment in recent days to return to "regular order," saying it was imperative that the House not simply accept bills driven by Democrats in the White House and the Senate.
"We have a Republican majority. We need to pass Republican bills out of the House," Duncan said.
Apparently, the plan is for House Republicans, despite their shrinking majority and the fact that they won fewer votes than House Democrats, to simply pass legislation that makes the GOP happy. If the Senate and White House like the bills, great. If not, we'll have another two years of gridlock and perpetual crises. For the Speaker, worrying about minor details such as which proposals are likely to become law isn't worth the effort.
This is necessary, Boehner believes, because he thinks his caucus keeps losing the various fights.
If you're thinking governing will be extremely difficult until House Republicans lose their majority at some point in the future, you're not alone.
Welcome to the 113th Congress.