The most commonly heard criticism of outgoing Republican House Speaker John Boehner is that he has allowed himself to be held hostage by the far right of his party.
Now, as Paul Ryan seeks to replace him as speaker and unite the fractious 247-member House Republican majority, the Wisconsin congressman is coming under pressure from the far-right House Freedom Caucus and its 40 or so members. Their demand of Ryan is the same as their demand of Boehner: more procedural power and greater input into the process of legislating. Some of the Senate’s most conservative members have also weighed in to support their cause.
This sounds like a recipe for disaster to many. After all, GOP hard-liners already hamstrung the House’s ability to pass laws.
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) October 26, 2015
Yet one of Washington’s most obsessive thinkers about congressional dysfunction argues that a big part of the problem was actually too much top-down control by Boehner, not the opposite.
Jason Grumet, founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and author of City of Rivals: Restoring the Glorious Mess of American Democracy, says Boehner failed to give the far right enough input, provoking its revolt. At the same time, Grumet says that while Ryan should open up the process in the House, he should also make it clear to the House Freedom Caucus that if he gives them ownership of the process, he also is going to work with Democrats to pass some measures…
I sat down with Grumet in his D.C. office to talk about what advice he’d give the new speaker.