It's A Deal: Republicans Settle for Notable Omnibus Wins

Republicans said Ryan deserved high praise for creating a more inclusive, collaborative environment in the lead-up to the omnibus negotiations. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has been offering members the same refrain since taking the gavel from John A. Boehner two months ago.  

He'd been dealt a bad hand by the old regime, according to the Wisconsin Republican, and the best thing for everyone was to make it through the end of the year so the Republican House can return to "regular order" and run the government as it should.  

Corporate Conservatives Strike Back with Ex-Im Win

Ryan let the House work its will when it came to the Export-Import Bank. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Maybe the lopsided votes clearing what’s colloquially dubbed “the highway bill” didn’t put a sufficient drumroll under the potentially historic nature of the occasion.  

The new law does more than set surface transportation policies and spending levels for five years, the first time since 2009 that road and mass transit improvements have enjoyed an extended lease on life.  

Democrats Urged to Oppose Ex-Im Amendments to Highway Bill

Hoyer said Tuesday Democrats are expecting "gotcha" Ex-Im amendments to the highway bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats expect plenty of "gotcha" Export-Import Bank-related amendments to the highway bill, and Republicans shouldn't count on much bipartisan support on them.  

"We are urging all of our members to vote no on any amendments to the Export-Import Bank provision in the highway bill, so that it can remain as the House passed it and the Senate passed it, both overwhelmingly," House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday in a briefing with reporters. Last week, the House passed a bill reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank through September 2019. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Senate will not take up Ex-Im as a standalone bill; the chamber passed an extension of the bank as part of a six-year highway bill in July.  

GOP Rebels Orchestrate Ex-Im Bank Job | Procedural Politics

Fincher is at odds with House Republican leadership over his bill that would reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank for five years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Last year in this space, I wrote about House discharge petitions as “useful minority tools,” even though they seldom gain the requisite 218 signatures to force floor consideration of the targeted legislation. The subject of that column was the Democrats’ attempt to force consideration of a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That effort had stalled at 197 signatures (all Democrats) when the clock ran out on the 113th Congress.  

In this Congress, a different phenomenon is unfolding: A discharge petition launched by 42 majority party members on Oct. 9 hit the 218 signature mark that same day, thanks to 176 Democratic co-signers. This year, the subject of the discharge petition is a five-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. (On July 1, it lost its authority to make new loans to companies to finance the export of U.S. products abroad.)  

GOP Leadership Vacuum Seen Helping Ex-Im Bank's Future

Boehner might look to "clean the barn" by shepherding reinstatement of the Export-Import Bank charter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the most important legislative drives this fall will manifest John A. Boehner’s promise to “clean the barn” for the next speaker — or else looms as the first ideological comeuppance for the new Republican leadership.  

In recent days, the suspense has changed from “if” to “when” Congress will reopen the Export-Import Bank, effectively padlocked since this summer thanks to one of the most consequential current disputes between the GOP’s small-government purists and its big-business buddies.