Should the House pass the Senate stopgap debt ceiling increase and budget legislation as expected with Democratic support Wednesday night, the Republican Party will be left with a bloodied brand and no new spending cuts or changes to Obamacare to rally around.
But they likely won’t be in political trouble or in fear of losing control of the House because in the end, they put up the fight conservative constituents back home wanted and were led by a speaker who got the team to the 1-yard line.
“That’s what’s so perverse about it,” said Republican advisor Ron Bonjean, spokesman of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. “Republicans get nothing on policy, but politically, they are protected in their districts. They are fine because they can say they voted against this plan.”
What’s more, he said, House Speaker John Boehner insulated himself from a challenge fighting for most of what his conservative caucus sought. “He ran the ball down to the end zone, and that’s what they wanted,” said Bonjean.
Ron Bonjean.Many House Republicans have been worried that if they didn’t fight against Obamacare and raising the debt ceiling, they would face a Tea Party challenge back home in the 2014 primaries. But by voting against the Senate deal, they will have done what their supporters wanted.
The question, say insiders, is how House conservatives will handle the issues in January, when the short-term deal ends. Some are suggesting that if there is to be a so-called “grand bargain,” then it should be agreed on no earlier than late spring, when most of the GOP House primaries will have already taken place and agreement to a moderate deal won’t hurt lawmakers politically.
The Senate bill ends the government shutdown through Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling until early February. It also calls for a House-Senate budget conference and makes a minor adjustment to Obamacare. A House vote is expected around 9 p.m. Wednesday.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.