And why their intransigence has become their own worst enemy.
By David Weigel
Shortly after 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, 89 senators finally passed a cobbled-together deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The big House Republican meet-up, the one that could end America’s least favorite epic drama, would come at 1 p.m. Reporters welcomed 2013 with cheap champagne in the Capitol rotunda.
Then, shortly after noon, while Vice President Joe Biden was telling House Democrats to back the bill, Republicans were telling reporters to check their optimism. This was not the come-to-Jesus meeting to whip votes. This would be a “conversation,” a Festivus-like airing of grievances. Some time later, the Republican conference would meet to talk about passing the bill. When would they vote on it? Ask again later.
The worries were justified. Inside the conference, as Speaker of the House John Boehner stayed neutral, member after member got up to denounce the deal. Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned that he did not support the bill in its current form. “When the leader speaks,” said one Republican member, “people listen more closely.” His defiance meant a lot more than some panicky Senate votes.
“We should not take a package put together by a bunch of octogenarians on New Year's Eve,” said Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette inside the meeting. After he left the room, Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston joked that the deal passed only because “it was way past those senators’ bedtimes and they had blurry eyes when they were reading” it. House Republicans? Why, they were “trying ...