John Feehery: Speaking Engagements



Posted on September 26, 2011
Ping-Pong is a wonderful game, requiring skill, finesse, great hand-eye coordination, and at times, power.

Ping-Pong is a different game in the Congressional sense.

When one legislative body ping-pongs back a piece of legislation to another legislative body (like the House jamming the Senate) it can be both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

Last week, the House served up a continuing resolution plus some additional disaster assistance money to the Senate before leaving for its break for the Jewish holidays.

The Senate, which hoped to also break for the week, is not at all happy with what the House served up.

But to be successful in jamming back the House, the Senate has to act as one. The rules of the Senate make it awfully hard for that body to act quickly on anything if there is a disagreement between the political parties.

And on this package, there is intense disagreement.

The Republicans want to pay for disaster assistance. The Democrats don’t like how the Republicans paid for it, especially their efforts to isolate a particularly bad political scandal that is currently afflicting the Obama Administration.

But in trying to avoid political embarrassment for the White House, the Senate Majority Leader might actually be putting his own vulnerable members in danger.

And you have to ask yourself this question if you are a Democrat up for re-election in a red-tinged state: What has this President done for me lately?

The interesting dynamic here is that both Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Minority Leader McConnell have been coordinating with their House colleagues in such a way as to weaken their own legislative body’s power at the negotiating table.

Reid apparently negotiated with House Speaker John Boehner on the initial CR package, and then went over to the House side to help Speaker Nancy Pelosi round up the votes to kill the package he negotiated.

McConnell, in turn helped to craft the Boehner strategy to jam the Senate and force Senator Reid’s hand.

The rule to be learned here is that when the Senate is divided amongst itself, the House has a great opportunity to jam the Senate.

As a former House guy, nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing the lower chamber sticking it to the upper chamber.

My prediction? The Senate caves and they pass the House bill to keep the government funded.