If John Boehner hoped to escape this self-inflicted battle over the GOP shutdown without complete and total humiliation, it's not happening.
It turns out that the Senate Republicans are winning the intrachamber, intraparty proxy battle between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party, and the Speaker has given up on having the House's mark on legislation that will ultimately reopen the government and pay America's bills. Complaining that the President has rejected their offer to have all this fun again in time for Thanksgiving, Boehner and House Republicans are resigned to let the Senate take the lead, while gasping for some modicum of dignity the Senate deal may offer them.
House Republicans stepped back from budget negotiations Saturday, leaving the Senate to take the lead on reopening the federal government and avoiding a default on the nation's debt.I don't blame Cantor for stomping his feet at the Senate GOP; it was after all one of them that set this disastrous strategy in motion.
At a brief meeting of House Republicans on Saturday morning, top leaders said they have no new proposal to offer the White House.
After the meeting, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said, "I'm disappointed that the president has rejected the offer that we put on the table. I know that he's trying to see which Republican senator he can pick off in the Senate. I hope that the Senate Republicans stand strong so we can speak with one voice."
I have felt that this is where things were going to come down since Republican senators paid a visit to the White House and broke with the House GOP's suicide bombing strategy this week. John Boehner has proven himself a supremely inept leader of the House and a worse negotiator with the president. He has been dragged around by the Tea Party crazy caucus and taken out all the drunken rage on the president because he has lost - and lost big - every time he has tried to negotiate with Obama.
And so it is this time. Boehner has no plays left. He doesn't want to look to the Tea Party like he's caving to the president, so he's handed the reins over to the Senate Republicans, hoping that their cave won't be blamed on him, and he'd be able to sell to the Tea Party the fact that he has no choice but to let the Senate proposal come to a vote because the big, bad Senate Republicans sold him (and them) out.
Will that satisfy the Tea Party? Of course it won't. But that doesn't matter anymore. This is about saving Boehner's face, not the Tea Party's. John Boehner is a coward, but he's not a complete idiot. Even he recognizes that the president has the support of the American people, and that his steel spine has completely disintegrated the Republican threats.
We are at the endgames now. Senate Democrats have rejected the initial offer from Sen. Collins (R-Maine) to lock in severely low levels of spending for six months coupled with a debt limit extension for too short a period of time while asking for concessions from the Democrats. But neither Senator Collins nor the Democrats have walked away, meaning that the deal is about to get more generous for Democrats and the president. These are the endgames of a full on GOP surrender.