Ryan Takes It on the Chin
The House Speaker just keeps on truckin’. Like McConnell, Ryan indicated his bargaining terms to the press for the White House meeting early on Wednesday morning. After hearing Treasury Secretary Mnuchin basically present the same negotiating position, Ryan must have felt truly in control. Minutes later, however, he heard the President turn around, reject the Republican leadership’s agreed upon position, and accept the Schumer-Pelosi recommendation. Ryan must have struggled to control himself. The rationale for the President’s decision are total speculation. There is no logic to Trump’s actions as it impacts on the Republican Party both politically and legislatively. For the Speaker—as he prepares for a private dinner at the White House tonight—he must have concluded that he needs to suck it up as he persists in a not so subtle strategy to keep himself in the public eye while jockeying for a presidential run as early as 2020.
McConnell Just Takes It
It is hard to imagine how Mitch McConnell sat through the meeting at the White House yesterday. He had to smile through a session with a President who had trashed him thoroughly during the recess and was now in the process of dumping out all his political chits. The recognized Senate broker was stripped of his ability to deal with the various Senate factions and with his House counterparts. It is this type of behavior by a Republican President which could well ultimately bring McConnell to leave the Senate should the GOP lose its majority after the 2018 election.
The President’s decision is actually good not only for the Democrats but for the country as well. Ironically, it is the GOP rank and file which refuses to demonstrate an interest in governing. The internal political shenanigans taking place within the Republican Party demonstrate a total repudiation or interest in classical legislating; conflict resolution and compromise. The various Republican factions, especially in the House, are merely pulling ideological curtains over a system that will come back to bite them at the end.
Meanwhile in the Upper Chamber
As promised Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held traditional hearings yesterday on developing ways to control the costs of the Obamacare insurance system. It was a clear statement that he and the ranking Democrat Patty Murray were actually going to try to work together to fix Obamacare. Following “regular orders” they heard witnesses and took testimony on the problems with the Affordable Care Act; an act suggesting that there are some non-polarizing voices left on Capitol Hill who will be responsible. If the Senate can truly organize itself to legislate as John McCain called out to his colleagues in his floor speech after his return in August, then the real Republican challenge will fall to the President, the Speaker, and the extreme House caucuses to see if they are prepared to follow suit. If the House continues its current form, then legislative action will depend on the House Democrats and a handful of Republicans to follow the Senate; which may well not be enough.