Whoever the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is going to be, he must first promise the American people that he will take every step necessary to stop a lame duck Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) from striking any more deals with the Obama administration.
That means no major legislation that relies on Democrat votes can pass the House prior to the next speaker assuming office — or else the new Speaker will own it.
This includes anything to do with immigration.
Or any new reauthorization of the now-expired U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Or any bailout of the highway trust fund paid for by an increase in the gasoline tax.
Or any plan to institute a two-year budget, undermining the next Speaker’s capacity to wield the power of the purse against Obama in his final year in office.
Or… you get the idea.
The last thing the new speaker should want is for Boehner to be the speaker who just wouldn’t go away.
It would be the ultimate slap in the face by a Washington, D.C. establishment that the American people have learned to viscerally distrust.
In Aug. 2010 when Republicans were still in the minority, then-house minority leader Boehner demanded Democrats rule out any lame duck session after the midterm election: “Washington Democrats should level with the American people, and guarantee that they won’t call Congress back into a ‘lame duck’ session to pursue big chunks of their unpopular, job-killing agenda.”
Here, Boehner was correctly articulating the principle that outgoing officials no longer facing reelection are by their nature unaccountable — and should have a much reduced role in governing.
The fact is, the moment Boehner announced his retirement, any mandate to govern he once possessed disintegrated.
Which is why House Republicans should demand that the next speaker — whoever he might be — will be the one making decisions after the Thursday Speaker election in the GOP conference.
The stakes are simply too high to allow a potentially renegade Boehner to pass discarded portions of Obama’s agenda — with Democrat votes to get them across the finish line.
To do anything else would undermine the next Speaker, and any good will that might have been generated by a changing of the guard. Now is the time to unite the House majority, not divide it along a lame duck agenda.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.