The Boehner bill never had a chance of passing the Senate, and for that reason, many argue that it was a waste of time to even consider it. Funny; those same people don’t say the same thing about the Reid bill, and its chances in the House, despite the fact that Senate Democrats are holding up consideration of the Reid bill notwithstanding Republican offers to consider the bill on a more expedited schedule.
The Boehner bill was consequential because its passage shows that however difficult the fight, at the end of the day, Speaker Boehner was the master of his caucus. Its passage allows him to have a seat at the table when the final compromise legislation is crafted, and it gives him significant bargaining authority–authority that he would not have had if he failed to pass his bill, and if his caucus was divided. Because of its passage, the Speaker can now parley on equal terms with Harry Reid and the White House. Of course, the White House and Senate Democrats never wanted the Speaker to be in a strong position, which is part of the reason why they were working along with House Democrats to beat the Boehner bill.
What’s interesting is that the Tea Party caucus in the House was–by fighting against the Boehner bill–effectively helping weaken the Speaker in any future negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House. Now, the Tea Party had a position to which it attached great philosophical import, and of course, ultimately, one must vote one’s conscience in Congress. But one can vote one’s conscience, and be pragmatic at the same time. If the Boehner bill had little chance of becoming law, the Tea Party bill had no chance whatsoever. So one wonders why the Tea Party caucus insisted on a position that not only wouldn’t become law, but would weaken the bargaining position of House Republicans when it came time for final negotiations to take place.
Again, it is worth noting Charles Krauthammer’s admonition that complete rollback of excessive government is simply not possible at this time, and won’t be until the Republican party takes control of the White House and the Senate, in addition to keeping control of the House. For this reason, the Tea Party should be content to pocket massive concessions from Democrats, and move on. They, and the Republican party as a whole will get another bite at the apple, and they will get that bite from a position of strength. But only if they are willing to at least be somewhat pragmatic.
The Boehner bill was a vehicle for prudence and pragmatism, while at the same time serving as a vehicle to reduce the size of government. Good thing it passed the House. Too bad so many Republicans tried their best to make it fail, though.