Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
A weird thing happened Friday afternoon on Capitol Hill. Amid the bedlam unleashed by the ongoing House Republican power struggle, some actual legislating broke out. A faction of Republicans who support restoring the Export-Import Bank joined with Democrats to force a vote on the issue.
We’ve covered the debate in this space. Frankly, it likely doesn’t impact you directly unless you work for Boeing, Caterpillar, General Electric or one of the handful of other major exporters that benefit from the credit financing the federal agency exists to supply. For the free-market crusaders who decided to take on the bank in the first place, that was precisely the point: It represents a bite-size opportunity to strike a blow against what they consider the scourge of crony capitalism. This summer, before what remained of GOP unity collapsed like (ahem) a house of cards, these hardliners succeeded in blocking a renewal of the bank’s 80-year-old charter.
But while conservative firebrands are proving the noisiest in the party’s fraying Congressional coalition, a band of pragmatists have been quietly stewing. On Friday, 42 of them broke ranks to back a rare procedural maneuver, called a discharge petition, designed to end-run their own House bosses. The move empowers any backbencher to bring a bill straight to floor if he or she can gather a majority of signatures to do so. Nobody’s successfully made use of it since 2002, however, because the chamber’s hidebound tradition deems it an affront to the prerogative of leadership. Lucky for Boeing and company, the pressure on Republicans to heed their leaders diminishes considerably when there are no longer any leaders to speak of.
The Ex-Im bank won’t be issuing new loan guarantees just yet. Next up, it faces a vote in the full House; then it must find a way past the opposition of (a still intact) Senate Republican leadership. But its revival by a bipartisan majority presents an intriguing prospect: The same group, long frustrated by the firebrands’ intransigence, could make the most of the vacuum to advance pieces of a consensus agenda that runs from immigration reform to infrastructure investment. Outgoing Speaker John Boehner opposes Ex-Im but conceivably could be conscripted for other items that offer legacy allure. The possibility remains remote. The hard-right is still issuing threats against Boehner. A debt default looms, at least as likely. And that’s the rub with revolutions — they come with equal parts promise and peril.
Correction: Yesterday’s CEO Daily referred to Bill Gross as a “bong king.” He is, of course, a bond king. File under “epic autocorrect errors.”
• The future of House Republican leadership lies in Paul Ryan’s hands
After disposing of two House Speakers in as many weeks, Republicans in the lower chamber are now fixated on a reluctant savior to end their internal strife: Paul Ryan, the 45-year-old former vice presidential candidate and current chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. The problem is that the Wisconsinite has done everything he can to indicate he isn’t interested in the job. Who could blame him? At this moment, corralling the party’s bitterly feuding factions looks like a thankless and potentially impossible assignment. But facing an unremitting pressure campaign from party elders, it may be that Ryan has no choice. There are few if any credible alternatives. Ryan is telegraphing that he has no intention of bowing and scraping to the House GOP’s various factions: If his colleagues want him to take the job, they’ll have to back him near-unanimously and without precondition. Washington Post
• Carly Fiorina has earned a key endorsement – from a billionaire
Carly Fiorina may not be raking in donations from her former Hewlett-Packard colleagues, but she can rely on support from that sina qua non of 2016 presidential politics — the committed billionaire benefactor. Jerry Perenchio, a reclusive 84-year-old who helped build Univision, has already contributed $1.6 million to a Super PAC supporting Fiorina’s bid. And he’s hosted at least fundraisers for her, encouraging fellow wealthy conservatives in Los Angeles to pony up. Perenchio is no stranger to cutting big checks for political causes he believes in, having donated millions to American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-founded group that helped steer more moderate Republicans through the 2014 midterm elections. The support could prove critical for a candidate who’s fundraising hasn’t yet matched her buzz. New York Times
• Marco Rubio’s third quarter fundraising underwhelms
The Florida senator, lately climbing in the polls, remains the odds-on bet of many in the pundit class to ultimately wrest the Republican presidential nomination. But getting from here to there will require plenty of campaign cash, and Rubio didn’t raise enough during the three-month period that just ended. Donors briefed on his most recent finance report, which hasn’t been made public yet, say Rubio pulled in $6 million for the quarter (compare that to the $26 million raised by socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders). Rubio allies insist he’s running a frugal campaign, managing his resources carefully. And they point to an uptick in September collections they say indicates he’s headed in the right direction. Politico
Around the Water Cooler
• The case for House Republicans to enlist Mitt Romney as their next Speaker
With House Republican leadership in full meltdown, Twitter wags and political pedants have been having a field day pointing out that nothing in the chamber’s rules prevents lawmakers from appointing a Speaker who doesn’t actually serve in the House. And this is true. Republicans can nominate anybody to serve in a post second-in-line to the presidency — Donald Trump, Bob Costas, Nicki Minaj. Over at Vox, Ezra Klein took the thought experiment a little more seriously and made the case for the GOP to rally around Mitt Romney as their new House leader. The arguments are sound enough: Romney was the last figure to unite, in a way, the warring Tea Party and establishment wings of the party; he’s a proven fundraiser, a thankless but crucial part of the job; he’s burnished his rep as a turnaround artist for failing outfits; and, as a restless 68-year-old, he could use a full-time gig. It’s a fun exercise, but it won’t ever happen. No matter how hopeless their infighting may seem right now, House Republicans would never accede to such a striking no-confidence vote in their own ranks. There’s a reason that no Speaker in history has been drawn from outside the chamber. Vox
• Beinart: Rubio’s not as moderate as he sounds
In a Republican presidential race so far defined by bombast, Rubio has distinguished himself by striking a rhetorical pose that acknowledges the liberal argument in any given debate. But, Peter Beinert argues, the tactic belies an unyielding and pronounced conservative position nearly across the board. It’s an approach Rubio shares with, if not outright borrowed from, President Obama. And it has obvious general-election appeal, by making him seem more reasonable and less ideological. But it’s also a sign of our more polarized era that the most moderation we can expect from national leaders is in their phrasing and not so much in their actual thinking. The Atlantic
• PSA: How to live stream the Democratic presidential debate for free
When the Democratic presidential candidates gather in Las Vegas on Tuesday night for their first debate, anyone with an Internet connection or a mobile phone can tune in. Host CNN has announced it will be broadcasting the event free to anyone who can access its site. The three-hour debate kicks off at 8pm ET. It promises to be a tamer affair than the two Republican showdowns so far. For one thing, no Trump. And for another, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has pledged to refrain from personally attacking front-runner Hillary Clinton, so it could be short on drama. Clearly aware it could lack for sizzle, CNN has said Vice President Joe Biden can take the stage even if he jumps into the race the day of the debate, but Biden allies have signaled he’s skipping it no matter what. Fortune