Why John Boehner’s Surrender On DHS Funding Is The Beginning Of The End Of His Speakership

As largely expected, House Speaker John Boehner has surrendered on trying to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty through DHS. The Hill reports that Speaker Boehner is planning a vote today to pass a “clean” DHS bill that keeps President Obama’s executive amnesty intact.

The House could vote Tuesday on a bill that averts a partial shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and funds the agency through September, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told GOP lawmakers in a closed-door caucus meeting.

The legislation has already passed the Senate and would not include language reversing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, as conservatives have demanded.

Obama has indicated he would sign the bill.

Boehner’s plans to move on a so-called “clean” funding bill follows months of infighting between centrist and conservative Republicans over the best strategy to roll back Obama’s immigration actions. A low point came Friday, when 52 conservatives rejected a plan by the Speaker to extend DHS funding for three weeks; Boehner was forced to rely on Democrats at the last minute to stave off a shutdown.

Much like the bill to temporarily fund DHS, Speaker Boehner will likely be forced to rely on Democrat votes to pass a clean bill. Boehner’s allies will also likely use House Rule 22, which would make a “clean” DHS bill a “privileged resolution” and which allow it to bypass normal House procedure and come directly to the floor. Either way would require a coalition of centrist Republicans and Democrats to approve it.

Now rumors are starting to fly that conservatives may try to launch a coup against Speaker Boehner in response to this vote. After all, when Boehner was pushing passage of the “CRominbus” bill at the end of the year, he promised conservatives that he would fight against Obama’s executive amnesty with the new Congress. Now, we saw the results of that fight and conservatives are moving to the point where they have had enough of Speaker Boehner.

Now, do I think that Speaker Boehner will be deposed in the short term? No and there are many reasons why it won’t happen. First of all, there is no credible alternative to Speaker Boehner at this time. The chariman of the new House Freedom Caucus, which is a grouping of very conservative and libertarian Republicans, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has ruled out a challenge to Speaker Boehner over a clean DHS bill.

If a challenge is launched, it will be launched by another very conservative member of the GOP caucus. The most likely result is a replay of what happened in January, which is a conservative alternative or two to Boehner makes a move, but garners very little support from within the GOP caucus.

While I do expect Speaker Boehner to survive in the short term, I don’t anticipate him to last past this term. I was at CPAC this past week and to say that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are not popular among conservative activists is probably the understatement of the century. Both men are unpopular among conservatives. Neither man addressed CPAC because they were afraid of the reaction from the crowd.

In the next Congress, I expect one of three things to happen: Democrats take control, Boehner decides not to run again and calls it a career, or Boehner is defeated by a credible opponent with a plan to oust him that isn’t thrown together at the last minute. Boehner at this point has burned too many conservatives with his promises to “fight another day” and once that other day arrives, it turns into a massive surrender and defeat. As Scott calls the Republican leadership, Charlie Brown Republicans, because they consistently lose political battles with Democrats.

Either way, Boehner’s days as speaker are likely numbered. He has simply burned too many bridges with conservatives at this point and eventually, that will pressure his caucus.

If Boehner wants to survive, he needs to engage conservatives both in his caucus and conservative activists. At this point, conservatives see him as the enemy at worst and inept at best. That’s not healthy for the Republican Party and the conservative movement in the long run.

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