The current activity of the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is in some sense hard to understand. The leadership apparently cannot reopen the government unless it goes against its powerful Tea Party ranks. If it does pass a clean cotinuing resolution, that is, a bill that would re-open the government without conditions — particularly as relates to Obamacare — then Republicans risk their continuing leadership of the House. Such a continuing resolution could pass, but only with support from both non-Tea Party Republicans and Democrats. Speaker Boehner’s continuation as Speaker would then be in doubt. But it would be interesting to see whether or not the Tea Party would actually carry through with its implied threat to vote him out. It’s likely they would.
The question then is what would come after voting out Speaker Boehner? The Tea Party would not be able to elect someone from their own ranks and it’s unlikely former Speaker Pelosi would achieve a majority vote either. That leaves us with a “dark horse” after an unknown number of ballots. Who might that be? We don’t really know. We’re in uncharted territory when it gets to that point. The whole sequence of events would be likely to occur in an unpredictable way. Would it occur at all? Possibly — probably — given the scorched earth politics of the Tea Party.
How would all this unfold? Let’s just say that if it occurs, then all or most of the Tea Party as well as the Democrats vote against Speaker Boehner. The only way he could remain as Speaker would be if about half of all Democratic representatives vote to keep the Speaker in power. That is something that Democrats could potentially agree to do as part of passing the continuing resolution. Hard to see any of them being that smart, but it’s possible, I suppose. Even if they agreed to do this, the Speaker would see that he would owe his re-election to a mixed coalition of Democrats and non-Tea-Party Republicans. Under the best of conditions it would be hard to hold such a coalition together. The Speaker would not likely see that as a tenable option, and reject this whole scenario out of hand. Based on his present behavior, it’s not hard to see that he wants to avoid this challenge all together. It’s also fairly certain that however the House of Representatives proceeds that a post-Speaker-Boehner House would give new meaning to unproductivity.