‘You snooze you lose’ message timed perfectly for Boehner on way out

When Congress comes back next week, it begins a run of five consecutive weeks of work. In congressional time, that's a long stretch of uninterrupted work. A lot...

Last week, as the House of Representatives came down around Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), I told a colleague, “John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised to ‘clean the barn up’ before he left. He should go big before he goes home.”

The lightbulb came on in my head. What a great title for a commentary! It would riff eloquently on the work Boehner  could get done between now and his departure date, especially since McCarthy’s tumble from the top caused a delay in leadership elections in the House Republican conference. And there is much to be done: a highway bill, the debt limit and the expiration of a continuing resolution. The CR will be the most challenging deal to get done, since both President Barack Obama and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) have both said they won’t let another CR through — only a fully appropriated budget.

So imagine my chagrin when one of the best Senate reporters on the Hill, Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call, published a piece titled “Schumer Urges Boehner to Go Big Before Going Home.” Niels reports Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the presumed Democratic leader in the next Senate, lays out a path to Boehner’s barn cleanup — rolling up all the major challenges with which his successor would otherwise have to deal.

As I lamented losing my headline to my more nimble fellow journalist, it occurred to me that the underlying message, “You snooze, you lose,” was just as applicable to Boehner as it was to me.

Boehner said when he resigned that he would leave on Oct. 30, but left an out: House Republicans had to have his successor lined up. On Boehner’s resignation day, McCarthy looked like a sure thing. When his candidacy for speaker blew up, though, Boehner promised to stay on until a new speaker was selected. Given the fallout we’ve seen in the speaker’s race, Boehner could be speaker for as long as another month.

When Congress comes back next week, it begins a run of five consecutive weeks of work, according to my CQ Roll Call congressional calendar mouse pad. In Congress time, that’s a long stretch of uninterrupted work. A lot can happen if the soon-to-be-former speaker doesn’t wait around like I did.

Sure, getting all those deals done will take Democratic votes. Boehner may have to violate the “Hastert Rule,” requiring half of the Republican caucus to approve of a bill before it comes to the floor for a vote. But what does he care, at this point? “You can’t fire me,” he could tell the caucus. “I already quit!”

So whether the message is “Go big or go home,” or “You snooze, you lose,” the incentive is there for a lot of deal making in the coming weeks. The only question is if Boehner, and his counterparts who are staying in Washington after he leaves, have the stomach to give as well as they take.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More Commentaries from Francis Rose:

    Nikki Maxwell/U.S. Army

    New Army energy strategy: security, sustainability among goals

    Read more

    No matter where you’re going, don’t forget your paperwork

    Read more
    Federal News Radio pinwheel icon

    Communication key in preparing for continuing resolution

    Read more