The House Looks To Take A Break From Passing Bills
Speaker John Boehner doesn't want to approve anything hastily or with a minority of the Republican vote. But that doesn't leave many options moving forward.
WASHINGTON — The House is tired of constant legislative "cliffs" and crises, Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday, and will strive to move away from using them to move tough decisions.
"Because we've had all of these fiscal cliff issues, there are a lot of other things the American people want us to address," Boehner said.
So, after voting this week to approve the continuing resolution to fund the government, the House likely won't be passing many major bills in the near term.
Boehner insisted the House will not continue to operate as it did with the Violence Against Women Act, either, which passed with a minority of the Republican majority supporting it.
But last-minute deal-making during crises or votes without a majority of Republicans have enabled the House to approve its only recent major pieces of legislation. When the Republican majority in the House has supported a bill, it has all but ensured the legislation would be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
In recognition of that dynamic, Boehner has repeatedly called for the Senate to act first — on nearly everything.
"There's not an appetite to continue to pass legislation in the House that's only going to go die in the Senate," said Rep. Aaron Schock, an Illinois Republican, invoking House Republicans' sequestration replacement bills as an example. "What more can we do, keep passing bills? I mean, we get made fun of when we vote on ObamaCare 60 times."
What House leaders have done recently is to allow votes on major bills, including the fiscal cliff deal and Sandy relief funding, that they knew would not garner support from a majority of Republicans. Boehner indicated Tuesday that he hopes to move away from that trend — but many Republican lawmakers concede that it might make sense with the GOP only controlling the House.
"We pass things out of here all the time with majorities, and the White House and the Senate never takes them up," said Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican. "So, what difference does it make if it's a majority or a minority of Republicans?"
A notable exception: When the House votes Wednesday to approve a continuing resolution to fund the government, the measure is expected to receive support from a majority of Republicans.
"For the first time, really, in the past two years, we're on the same page," Fleming said. "I voted against the two previous continuing resolutions, and I'm happy with this one. So I don't think (Boehner is) going to have any problem getting that majority he's looking for among Republicans."
But there will be no such assurance if the Senate sends the bill back with amendments to re-target sequestration cuts to domestic spending — in which case Boehner might have to decide whether to do exactly what he doesn't want to, and bring another measure to the floor without a majority of his conference's support.