Last week, House Speaker
As of Tuesday, the GOP had failed on both counts. The federal government was closed, and Obamacare was sputtering into action — at least in jurisdictions where its websites didn't crash.
Worst of all from the GOP's standpoint, most voters appeared to blame Boehner and other conservatives for the logjam. The flood of public support promised by
I wrote this column Tuesday; it's possible that by the time you're reading it, the impasse has been solved — but I doubt it. If not, this might be a good time for House Republicans to look for a dignified exit from the corner they've painted themselves into. Indeed, that's what an increasing number of relatively moderate conservatives in the GOP caucus have started saying.
On Tuesday, Rep.
But it's not up to backbenchers like Rigell and Nunes, legislators you've probably never heard of, to find the way out of a partisan logjam that is costing taxpayers money without achieving any purpose.
That's what congressional leaders are supposed to do — and what they haven't shown any ability to accomplish in this latest and most ridiculous fiscal standoff.
Instead, Boehner has deferred to the demands of hard-liners in his own conference and insisted on linking federal spending to defunding or delaying Obamacare — a nonstarter in the Democratic-run
Senate Minority Leader
And Senate Majority Leader
As the shutdown continues, however, and the frightening prospect of a mid-October crisis over the federal debt ceiling nears, all sides will want to make a deal.
Boehner's proposal that the House and Senate meet in a conference to iron out their differences might provide the pathway to an agreement. A conference could wrap together the spending issue, an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and modest changes to Obamacare (such as repealing the tax on medical devices that neither party likes). That would give each side something it wants.
Another path would be for Obama to try something that worked last year when Congress was facing a "
Would such a move cost Boehner his job as speaker? Maybe — but maybe not. Some Democrats have said, a tad mischievously, that they'd be willing to rescue Boehner if he'd pass a "clean" spending bill and allow a vote on the
At the moment, that's mostly a fanciful idea. It would make the