This could turn out to be a very momentous week for Congress: electing a new speaker; resolving the debt limit crisis; approving a two-year budget; renewing the Import-Export Bank; approving funding for the Highway Trust Fund. This mostly has to be done by Saturday, which seems like a real stretch for a legislative body that has trouble with revolving doors. But hope springs eternal.
John Boehner’s term as Speaker of the House is set to end on Friday. It is sort of like the Pope resigning, both being fairly rare occurrences.
Paul Ryan will be the new Speaker. On his terms, or on the “super majority” of the Freedom Caucus’ terms; who knows? It is interesting to see that the Freedom Caucus of the House, which was created because the formerly most conservative Republican Study Committee was apparently perceived by some House members as not being conservative enough, is now being criticized by the FRM (Far-Right Media, not to be confused with the MSM). The FRM seems to think that the Freedom Caucus has sold out to the party establishment. This could get confusing.
Anyway, those Freedom Caucus members who are supporting Ryan probably will not want an unconditional vote for raising the debt limit, or another vote approving a two-year budget that makes some bi-partisan peace to get past next year’s election. Boehner is working something out with Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama to take care of these sticky matters so Ryan does not need to do any heavy lifting after he becomes Speaker. I wonder how Ryan will vote on these things this week. You can call Boehner’s actions “Saving Speaker Ryan.” Tom Hanks may play Boehner in the movie version of the story.
The two somewhat lesser subjects on Congress’ agenda this week are renewal of the Import-Export Bank and the Highway Trust Fund. The establishment wing of the Republican Party plus some Democrats are the ones who want the Bank renewal. The Highway Trust Fund has broad bi-partisan support in Congress except for one issue, which is where the money is coming from. The 35th short term version “kick-the-can-down-the-road” for the highway bill (pun intended) seems likely, unless some creative financing comes into play.
So in five paragraphs I have summed up everything you need to know about perhaps the biggest week in Congress in years.
The Republican debate, round 3
Wednesday night’s third Republican debate is likely to be more of the same. The national punditry has come up with a million and one scenarios for what needs to happen. Be assured that like a super powerball lottery ticket, one of those scenarios might be correct – or not.
The real question is why there are two bouts again. Does anyone really think that somehow Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki or Lindsay Graham will magically leap-frog the other ten candidates to become a real contender?
The important thing to remember about the main event and all the analysis that follows is that there are only two lanes open to the Republican presidential nomination: the outsider/far-right (OFR) lane and the establishment (E) lane. There are more candidates sitting in the outsider lane for an important reason. That is where the party is right now. Here is a summary of the Real Clear Politics average of Republican preferences as of October 27th:
OFR Lane E Lane
Trump 26.8% Rubio 9.0%
Carson 22.0% Bush 7.0%
Cruz 6.6% Kasich 2.6%
Fiorina 5.8% Christie 2.4%
Huckabee 3.8% Graham 1.0%
Paul 3.4% Pataki 0.2%
69.2% Totals 22.2%
The establishment leadership of the Party seems to think that when all is said and done, all that support in the OFR column will somehow come to the conclusion that, what the heck, we really love those establishment candidates and we’ll be all for them in November. Right!
I had the opportunity this past Sunday to participate for an hour on Dave Debo’s Hardline program on WBEN with Carl Calabrese, Republican consultant and former deputy county executive. We had a spirited conversation about Hillary Clinton, the Benghazi hearing and some local politics. We failed to convince each other of most of our positions but the give-and-take was fun. Having the Bills game on TV at the same time was a bit of challenge, but Dave kept things focused.
My wife Sophia and I took in the Chicago concert at Shea’s on Sunday night. Great show! Kate and Tony Masiello were seated 5 or 6 rows in front of us. During the show’s intermission the Mayor, cell phone is hand, said that he was checking this blog. It is always nice to hear that.
The band played their old favorites and some other songs that were not so familiar. Four of the original group are still with them. Seeing that they first got together in the 1967, they are moving pretty well for a bunch of near septuagenarians. The band has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
The show was well received by the sell-out crowd, which seemed, on average, to be just a few years younger than the original members of the band. But does anyone really know what time it is, does anybody really care?