The only thing preventing the House from passing a clean continuing resolution to open the government AND a clean resolution to raise the debt limit is Speaker John Boehner’s reluctance to bring such bills to the floor of the House for a vote. If he did, Democrats and enough Republicans would vote in favor to pass them. Boehner is reluctant to take such a step because he would anger Tea Party Republicans so much that he would likely NOT be re-elected Speaker at the next session of Congress, assuming Republicans retain control of the House which they probably will. Additionally, Boehner might face a Tea Party challenger in the Republican primary which could cost him his seat. Moderate Republicans who might support a clear CR and debit limit increase are being threatened by rich Tea Party backers--We will spend a fortune to defeat you in the primary.So is there a way out of the government shutdown/debt ceiling impasses? Yes. Of course it is a way, way out idea for a way out but it IS perfectly Constitutional and entirely possible or nearly so. Here is how it would work.
Article I, Section II of the Constitution says: “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.” Members of the House elect the Speaker by majority vote at the beginning of each session of Congress. Usually each party nominates someone for Speaker and the vote is along party lines, but it does not have to be. Representatives can vote for anyone to be Speaker including someone who is not a member of Congress. A majority vote elects the Speaker. Currently, that means 217 votes are required to elect the Speaker. Boehner could make a pack with Democrats for enough of them to vote for him for him to remain Speaker if Republicans retain the Majority in 2015. Of course if he did that, he would not be reelected to the House. Of course that wouldn't matter because the Speaker doesn't have to be a member.So, here is how such a deal might work. Boehner makes a deal with the Democrats in the House. He will agree to bring a clean bill to the floor for a continuing resolution and another clean bill to raise the debt ceiling. Both bills would probably pass since the 200 Democrats would only need 17 Republicans to join them to reach the 217 votes required to pass the bills. The Senate would pass the clean resolution and debt limit increase and Obama would sign them. The whole crisis would be over and the country could get back to whatever we do when we don’t have a political and economic crisis facing us.
In return for bringing the clean bills to the floor, Democrats and the 17 Republicans would agree to vote for John Boehner for Speaker in 2015 if Republicans retain control of the House. Now, the 17 Republicans would join the Democrats in this deal because they are all from swing districts who could lose to a Democrat in 2014. In return for their help in getting Boehner to bring the bills to the floor, Democrats would agree not to run a candidate in the next election against the 17 Republicans that went along with the deal and/or these 17 Republicans could run as Democrats with plenty of Democratic support. Remember these 17 Republicans have to run in swing districts, districts that voted for Obama. Of course, the Tea Party would go nuts and Boehner most likely wouldn’t survive the Republican primary so he would lose his seat in the House. However, that wouldn’t matter if Republicans retain a majority in the House as is likely. Democrats would nominate Boehner for Speaker. They and the 17 Republicans who retained their seats primarily because of the deal would vote in a block for Boehner. Boehner would become the first bi-partisan elected Speaker in the history of the country.Of course, the downside of this is we would be stuck with Boehner as Speaker for two more years. But then, unlike the Tea Party children, we don’t expect to get everything we want.
I told you it is a way, way, way out idea for a way out. But, it just might work.