I’m a lifelong Democrat, so the word “hope” is not really significant in my vocabulary, but I would be most pleasantly surprised if last week’s farm bill debacle knocked some sense into a few Repub heads. And I’m very, very glad that we’ve got Pelosi on our side while the GOP only has Boehner. Greg Sargent, on Friday:
… In an interview today, Pelosi said she hoped Boehner and Republicans had learned “lessons” from the farm bill debacle about the consequences of moving legislation too far to the right, and warned that doing so on immigration reform would alienate Dems just as Republican amendments to the farm bill did.
“They were asking us to abandon our values, because they couldn’t get their act together,” Pelosi said of the farm bill debate, a reference to a GOP amendment that allowed states to impose work requirements on food stamps on top of $20 billion in cuts to the program. “Hopefully they learned a lesson that you cannot go too far.”
Embedded in these comments is a stark warning that underscores Boehner’s dilemma on immigration in the wake of the farm bill mess. Yesterday’s vote showed again that there is a sizable bloc of conservative House Republicans that simply can’t be counted on to pass legislation — even if it contains massive concessions to them — forcing a reliance on Dem votes to get big items passed. Boehner has insisted nothing will get a vote in the House unless it is supported by a majority of Republicans. But it’s unclear whether a majority of Republicans will support anything with a path to citizenship in it, unless it perhaps contains extremely tough border security triggers as preconditions for it. (GOP Rep. Tom Price said today it’s “highly unlikely” that citizenship can win over House Republicans.)
And Pelosi’s warning today to Boehner means that anything that can win a majority of Republicans is likely to alienate Democrats en masse, making passage perhaps impossible. Pelosi repeatedly warned that Boehner must not embrace immigration reform that “undermines our values,” lest that cost Dem support….
Pelosi’s remarks are a reminder of the dilemma Boehner faces. There really may be nothing that a majority of Republicans could support that can also win over Dems in any significant numbers. Anything that can pass the House with almost entirely Republican votes — whatever that would be — won’t get the support of Senate Democrats or President Obama. Which means, as Brian Beutler put it, that the only way Boehner can get reform through the House that has a chance of becoming law is if he accepts the need to “dispense with the member management theatrics and throw in with Democrats.”
Pelosi seems eager to use the farm bill debacle to sharpen the reality of the choice Boehner faces. “He’s going to have to work with us,” Pelosi says. “Hopefully they’ve learned something about legislating.”
Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly – “SNAP! It’s a Different Political System“:
Nancy Pelosi began her remarks at Netroots Nation having some fun at John Boehner’s expense at the “amateur hour” represented by the Farm Bill Fail earlier this week. She noted in particular that the GOP leadership took a huge risk by adding the Southerland Amendment to the bill—a real provocation to House Democrats—and then couldn’t even deliver the votes of those in their own conference who insisted on “reform” of the SNAP (food stamp) program…
The multi-year Farm Bill is the ultimate, eternal, iconic example of “must-do” legislation put together in a messy, log-rolling process full of impure but essential compromises. Ideological issues—particularly the long battle for and against farm subsidies—have always played a part in Farm Bill politics, but regional and commodity issues have predominated, and no fight was vicious enough to prevent final enactment for more than a session or so…
Just now Pelosi talked about the shocking willingness of all but a handful of House Republicans to vote against a defense authorization bill—a defense authorization bill!—because of their opposition to the policy overturning “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
And that’s why I just have to shake my head when so many pundits so frequently predict, with no real evidence, that the “culture wars” are safely in the rear-view window. Culture-based ideological warfare has a firmer grip on the Republican Party than ever, and it has expanded to virtually every policy front. The “fever” may break, as the president piously hoped before his re-election. But for now, its persistence is a much better bet than any resumption of the old familiar ways of governing.