"We Win, They Lose"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 3 2013 10:40 AM

"We Win, They Lose"

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Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, isn't just a comedian.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The best recap of the House's Wednesday maneuvering on bills to fund politically explosive functions of government comes from David Rogers. Having stumbled on Tuesday, and failed to bring up the funding bills under suspension of the rules, Republicans regrouped and allowed the bills to come up under the rules. Democrats had a chance to restore funding to the entire government—something 17 moderate Republicans in the House now say they're for. The moderates, once again, proved unable to cohere around anything, and the Democratic move failed as four "mini-CRs" passed, most notably the new "Research for Lifesaving Cures Act" to fund the NIH. (As Rogers points out, "under the Republican budget, the GOP has proposed to fund NIH at a 2014 level of $27.4 billion or $1.52 billion under its current funding at the end of fiscal 2013." That's being ignored for now as Republicans lay the wood into Harry Reid for preferring a full continuing resolution to the piecemeal bills.)

Why do the conservatives keep holding fast? One reason is revealed in a nice scoop by Rebecca Berg, who gets into the details of the dialogues House and Senate conservatives are having constantly. On Monday, New York Rep. Michael Grimm told me that fellow New York Rep. Peter King didn't even talk to him about a plan to vote down a rule and revive a clean CR. Compare that with the "We Win, They Lose" listserv, named after Ronald Reagan's line about how the Cold War would end. Republican staffers in both Houses knew early that the mini-CRs could be brought up in a way that would help the party's messaging.

One thread Tuesday coincided with a House vote on the targeted appropriations bills. Rules required that the bills get a two-thirds majority to pass and Amanda Carpenter, a senior communications adviser to Cruz, started asking about when the bills could be brought up and passed with only a simple-majority vote. “They'll do that tomorrow, and add a couple bills to the docket,” replied Jason Yaworske, a legislative strategist at Heritage Action. “And they'll now have the only substantially bipartisan votes on record in this whole thing,” added Connie Hair, chief of staff to Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.
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The lamestream media prefers to think of Louie Gohmert as a comical figure who crafts bon mots for Jon Stewart to mug about when the House is in session. But he was more plugged in to the process than House moderates were—and that's because the process is, functionally, run by House conservatives.

*Correction, Oct. 3, 2013: Due to a photo provider error, the caption in the original photo with this story misidentified someone else as Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert. The photo has been replaced.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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