What Next For the House?

Speaker John Boehner’s resignation reflects the fact that virtually every Republican in the United States is disappointed in the Congress. With Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, it is hard to point to any significant accomplishments in the last eight months. At a minimum, I had expected a Republican Congress to pass a series of popular, conservative measures which the Democrats would be obliged to filibuster (if they had the votes) or veto. Instead, Congress has done little or nothing to put President Obama on the defensive.

The most salient current controversy relates to funding Planned Parenthood. While not the most significant in monetary terms, it is typical of the issues as to which most activist Republicans think the House leadership has not been aggressive enough. President Obama has vowed to veto any continuing resolution that does not include funding for Planned Parenthood. In his press conference today, Obama described this as “inserting a non-budget item into a spending bill.” How is funding for Planned Parenthood a non-budget item?

I don’t know. In any event, Congress should pass a continuing resolution that does not include funding for Planned Parenthood. If Obama follows through on his veto threat, and as a result he shuts down part of the government for a while, fine. Let the Democrats try to explain why they have shut down the government in a fit of pique over funding for Planned Parenthood–which is not even a government agency.

If leaders like John Boehner are not willing to carry out that simple strategy, on an issue that has the support of most voters, and take their case persuasively to the people, then we need new leaders. That, I take it, is the conclusion that the House caucus reached.

I don’t know who the next Speaker will be. It is not clear whether Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy would be an improvement or not. But the entire leadership team needs to do a better job. Back-room maneuvering is only part of the job description. We need leaders who will go on television and radio, who will give press conferences, who will communicate directly with voters and make the case for conservative policies.

If we don’t get that, overthrowing John Boehner as Speaker will accomplish little or nothing.