Early Returns

Republicans Go for a Win in Name Only

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

Going nowhere.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The health-care bill that squeaked through the House and is now beginning to possibly move through the Senate had a lot of problems, but at least it had a plausible plan to get through Congress and become a law. The financial-regulation bill the House will consider today (to "repeal" the Dodd-Frank Act) has no plan, and no apparent possibility of going anywhere beyond the House. It will presumably pass on a straight party-line vote, with every Democrat voting against it. 

Which means it will run smack-dab into a Senate filibuster and (if the Senate leadership bothered to bring it to the floor, which seems unlikely) fall at least eight votes short of the 60 needed to overcome that tactic. 

As I've said before, we should think of this as a choice: House Republicans prefer the symbolic win of passing something that goes nowhere to the hard work of constructing a law, which sometimes requires bipartisan support. And they do so (at least in part) because, on the one hand, their voters (and the Republican-aligned media their voters listen to) love symbolic actions and are indifferent to winning incremental substantive battles; on the other hand, Republican-aligned groups don't demand substantive gains. The former is perhaps best explained by the theory that Republicans are in important ways an ideological party, as Matt Grossmann and Dave Hopkins explain. The latter -- groups organized around common economic interests that are willing to settle for symbolic victories -- is a complete mystery, at least to me.

1. Marc Lynch at the Monkey Cage on Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia and Qatar

2. "Comey is describing here conduct that a society committed to the rule of law simply cannot accept in a president." That's Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare. 

3. Greg Sargent on the tactics available to Senate Republicans on their health-care bill. Very helpful. 

4. Brian Beutler suggests Democrats should supply the votes needed to avoid default -- in exchange for abolishing the debt limit for good

5. Good Nate Cohn item on why Democrats don't have to win this year's special elections to have a good chance of winning a House majority next year. 

6. And why does Arizona have Confederate monuments to take down, anyway? Antonia Noori Farzan reports that most of them were only erected in the last two decades. Sort of amazing to me, since I grew up there before at least some people tried to turn the state into a hotbed of the Confederacy. 

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    Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

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