House Speaker John Boehner is still trying to rustle up the votes to pass a government funding and debt limit bill, but some Republicans members are whispering about what they'll do to prevent the Senate from nixing it. The answer? Pass the bill and then skip town.
The idea is that Senate Democrats and President Obama would be left with "a deal that they can't refuse," as Republican Rep. John Flemming told reporters on Tuesday. As much as some would like to see Boehner heading down the road with a bindle on his shoulder, he can't really do that. The move would only delay further negotiations, not stop them. An expert on congressional procedure told The Atlantic Wire that the "skip town" strategy would fail because the president has the constitutional authority to call the House back any time. Both the House and the Senate have attempted to leave bills on each other's doorsteps in the past, but in the context of the shutdown, the strategy is untenable. The public is already fed up with the shutdown; to leave D.C. and risk the full faith and credit of the U.S. would make the GOP look even worse, our expert said. Obama wouldn't just give Boehner a call to bring him back to work; he'd go up to the "bully pulpit" and explain the American people what the Republicans did.
Further, basic House rules could be used to call Republicans back to negotiations on Wednesday. Ian Milliser at Think Progress explains that only 15 members need to be present to vote to bring their absent colleagues back to work. Once they vote, the Sergeant-at-Arms can send out officers to arrest truant members. That would be even better political theater than what we've seen lately, but all things considered, bad for the country.
The House will vote on its funding bill tonight.