We’re watching yet another dysfunctional event unravel in Washington. Here are five nuggets of wisdom to take from this whole speaker mess from the Washington Post.
- Republicans are at war: With each other, that is. One year after a major victory at the polls, the party is in complete disarray — “on the verge of ceasing to function as a national political party,” writes The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty. The key battle line is drawn between about 30 to 40 Tea Party-aligned lawmakers and the more moderate establishment. Those Tea Party lawmakers, known as the House Freedom Caucus, are frustrated that Republicans haven’t been able to undo President Obama’s agenda and are now staking out demands their leaders can’t possibly deliver on, such as passing a spending bill that doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood.
- What they want isn’t feasible: Obama won’t sign a spending bill without the Planned Parenthood money. So Republican leaders, such as outgoing Speaker John Boehner (OH), have tried to meet these lawmakers in the middle, holding hearings on Planned Parenthood and taking a test vote to defund it. But it seems to be all or nothing for this increasingly angry group of conservatives, who have enough members on their side to at least influence the balance of power in the House. That intransigence has translated to whom they’ll vote for to lead them. They don’t want a leader who will compromise with them; they want a leader who will do what would seem impossible given the realpolitik. It’s a full-blown revolution on Capitol Hill with no clear answers, writes Fix Boss.
- We’re at a dead end: This road block has now taken down two very capable Republican congressmen (Boehner and McCarthy), and it’s as unclear as ever who can negotiate a truce. Some are literally begging Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) to take the job. But who’s to say that the party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate (read: establishment) can do any better?
- Meanwhile, the to-do list: Almost everything else on Congress’s long to-do list is at a standstill — or at least on the back, back burner. Keeping the government open? Raising the debt ceiling to allow the U.S. Treasury to pay its existing obligations? Funding our highways, roads and bridges? First, we need the party that controls both chambers of Congress to figure itself out. Oh, and did we mention that there are 25 legislative days (and counting) to do all of this?
- What about the long game? Come 2016, will voters punish this chaos at the polls? Will the tea party’s hardline stance bolster the Donald Trumps of the world? Fix Boss thinks it’s the latter: “If you are Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich, what happened Thursday in Washington should put a lump in your throat.”