The House approved the Senate’s fiscal cliff deal, barely:
The House vote laid bare some of the internal ideological divisions to plague the GOP over the past two years. More Republican congressmen (151) voted against the Senate bill than for it (85), meaning that Democrats’ support was needed to advance the final deal. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took the rare step of casting a vote, and did so in favor of the legislation. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the former Republican vice presidential nominee, also supported the package. But Boehner’s top two lieutenants, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., each opposed the deal.
What this really means is that a longstanding Republican rule called “the majority of the majority” died a fiery death, at least as far as this vote goes. The rule goes back to the days of ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert and is a policy by which the Republican House leader vows not to bring any bill to the floor unless a majority of the Republican caucus supports it. When Boehner took over the Speaker’s position in 2010 he claimed he would not bring back that policy, though in fact he did and, indeed, strengthened it by requiring the support of 218 Republicans.
Apparently this kind of rule is very common in Parliamentary systems, but we don’t have one of those, and the result under our system is often gridlock. The fact that Boehner was willing to ditch this rule to get something done (and save himself from another “Plan B” embarrassment) is, if nothing else, an encouraging sign.
Now, on to filibuster reform in the Senate. Make it so.