Guy Benson
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This process effectively became a fait accompli last night, and was locked into place this morning. Step one has now been executed, with 81 Senators voting to adopt the Reid-McConnell "bargain."



Most Republicans (27) voted yes, while all (18) no votes came from the GOP. Opponents of the deal like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio declined to exercise their prerogative to delay the vote, effectively acknowledging that the fight is over (for now, at least) and even a technical default would be an extremely undesirable outcome. Now the Senate-passed bill is off to the House, where a group of Republicans will join a majority of the Democratic minority to send it to the president's desk. This will almost certainly be a violation of the so-called 'Hastert Rule,' a precedent wherein the Speaker doesn't permit votes on bills that will not attract the support more than half of the majority caucus. Boehner has resorted to this play on several occasions in the past, including on the fiscal cliff bargain in early January (which was less bad for Republicans than this one is). Will Boehner's move spark a conservative revolt to remove him as speaker? Nope:


Speaker John Boehner may be preparing to bring the Senate government-funding and debt-ceiling bill to the House floor and pass it with mostly Democratic votes, but his colleagues on the right side of the aisle don’t seem perturbed about it in the least. “I’ve actually been really proud of Speaker Boehner over the last two and a half weeks. I don’t think he should be ashamed of anything he has done,” says Representative Raul Labrador, who made the remarks at the “Conversations With Conservatives” lunch. “I would give him an ‘A.’ I think he’s done a very good job over the last few weeks,” says Representative Tom McClintock.


The House's most conservative faction evidently will neither support, nor move to oust, Speaker Boehner. Interesting. So once the deed is done in the House, how will things proceed? There will surely be a bout of nasty infighting and finger-pointing from both sides. Rather than recapitulate all the angry arguments ("the Tea Party screwed us with totally unrealistic expectations and goals!" / "purge all the spineless establishment weaklings!") in detail, let's focus on something constructive. Phil Klein argues that conservatives must learn from Democrats, whose calculating methods have been ruthlessly effective at asserting their agenda in recent years:


Once again, Democrats threaded the needle. They pushed through health care legislation that was much more ambitious than the Washington establishment deemed prudent, while rejecting the more sweeping call for single-payer health insurance and abandoning the public option to secure enough votes. Democrats paid a political price for their decision, as the passage of Obamacare generated a furious backlash that cost them their House majority in 2010. But they achieved a policy goal liberals had been pursuing since the New Deal. Compare that to the way Republicans have behaved. When Republicans had full control over Washington during the Bush era, they used their power to stomp all over conservative principles and drastically expand government. This month, with limited control of Washington, Republican congressional leaders allowed themselves to be dragged by activist groups into a doomed budget showdown. If Republicans want to advance the conservative agenda, they should study the way that Democrats balanced their liberal goals with the realities of legislating.


Jonah Goldberg says the internecine recriminations, and public backlash, won't be as severe as many fear, and should be ended as soon as possible:


The ugliness of the GOP schism will probably have a long half life, as various parties feel the need to point fingers and shout “I didn’t do it!” But if at all possible, I think conservatives and Republicans would be well-served by putting these disagreements behind us, like family fights at a Thanksgiving table that are best forgotten. If this were a very special episode of a 1980s TV show, we could resolve all of this with a simple break-dancing competition. But as that is not a viable option at this juncture, neither is any other emotionally or intellectually satisfying settlement to this argument...If the Obamacare program crashes as badly as its website has, public outrage will be sufficiently broad and deep that Republicans will benefit enormously from being able to say “We told you so!” How much of that benefit will be thanks to Cruz & Co. simply can’t be quantified. I would bet that the shutdown plays a relatively minor role in the 2014 and 2016 elections. But even if the shutdown plays a big role, that would be all the more reason for Republicans to find the best and most unifying way to talk about it. Endless internecine screaming about what went wrong is exactly what Obama wanted out of this.


Sage advice. Admittedly, though, the healing probably won't start tonight. I would recommend reading Allahpundit's tough but fair post on tactics and realities (yes, by linking his piece, I'm tipping my hand, not that my general position has been any sort of secret). Stand by for updates from the House side...



UPDATE - The House passes the Senate bill. Obama will sign it tonight. Democrats voted unanimously in favor, Republicans split 87-144 yes/no.
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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography