Boehner Threatens to Kill Any Bill That Passes the Senate if Democrats Reform the Filibuster

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 29 2012 5:48 PM

Boehner Threatens to Kill Any Bill That Passes the Senate if Democrats Reform the Filibuster

My new piece describes the state of play over possible filibuster reforms. To the surprise of many, they might actually happen, and I go through a few reasons why. Chief among them: The Democrats who typically oppose moves like this have largely left the Senate, and Harry Reid himself, riven with anger at Mitch McConnell, is open to reform.

And there's a new fact that speaks to the credibility of the Democrats' plan. Shortly after 5 p.m. today, John Boehner's office released a statement pre-condemning a change to the filibuster. The key threat: "Any bill that reaches a Republican-led House based on Senate Democrats’ heavy-handed power play would be dead on arrival."

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Boehner's stepped up before when Republicans have needed to gum up one of the Obama administration's moves around Congress. Starting last summer, after it became clear that the president would use recesses to make appointments, the House simply stopped going on long recesses. It kept the body open in pro forma sessions, denying the president his power.

Ah, but here's the rub: Eventually, the White House told the House to bug off. In January 2012, Obama recess-appointed Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Republicans threatened to sue the administration. Nothing ever came of that. When you talk to Democratic aides, they mention that whiff as a reason they're not particularly worried about a backlash to filibuster reform -- or, now, a crazy-sounding threat to kill all legislation that passes the Senate.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.