Capitalizing on the GOP and conservative punditry’s “new rallying cry,” House Republican Study Commission Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) will introduce a resolution today to prohibit Democrats from calling the House to assemble in a lame duck session of Congress following the November elections. Insisting that Democrats view the post-election period as “their last chance” to “enact the remaining items on the liberal wish list,” Price is pushing the resolution to force Democrats “to show if they support the use of a lame duck session to override the will of the American people.” HuffPo’s Sam Stein notes the resolution will amount to little more than “Kabuki theater.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and other Republican leaders were quick to jump on Price’s bandwagon. Like Price, Boehner asked constituents “to challenge” Democrats “to pledge right now that they won’t use a lame-duck session.” However, like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, these GOP leaders are suffering from selective amnesia about their own support of the 2006 lame duck session:
TOM PRICE: After losing 31 House seats in the 2006 elections, Price expressed his committment to accomplishing the GOP agenda by “stay[ing] in as long as we need to get done as much as we can do realistically.” “If that’s a week, fine. If that’s four weeks, fine,” he added.
JOHN BOEHNER: In 2006, Boehner was also “intent on finishing all [legislative] action,” including action on nine FY07 appropriations bills. When pushed on the length of the session, he was “unwilling to predict a possible closing date” until the agenda was accomplished.
MITCH MCCONNELL: After the ouster of six Senate Republicans in 2006, McConnell supported incoming Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) lame duck agenda, saying “if we can accomplish” the agenda “it would be a very productive lame duck and I like his attitude about it.”
President George W. Bush surprised Democrats with an unannounced, last-minute move to nominate John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during that session. Despite the controversial and unpopular nomination, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pushed his colleagues to bring the nomination to the Senate floor for a vote. And in 1998, despite a consistent lack of public support for the effort, both McConnell and Boehner supported the impeachment of President Bill Clinton during a lame duck session.
Ignoring this prior history, Price insisted on C-Span today that the previous lame duck sessions were all “custodial” in nature, and claimed that the Democrats would use this session to push “fundamental issues.” When a couple of callers asked if Price would commit to not taking a salary during the lame duck session since he doesn’t want to work, the Georgia congressman skirted the issue, saying he’s “open” to discussing it. Watch it:
Some Democrats have assured Republicans that there is “no secret or overt plan.” Republicans, however, have decided to mount a politically-motivated campaign to try to take climate change legislation — and other pieces of the Democratic agenda — off the table.
Not only do Democrats not have the votes to pass hot-button legislation, but many Democrats facing reelection in 2012 don’t “have any more appetite to take a difficult vote.” Even McConnell and Republican aides, despite GOP bluster, recognize this, confirming to Slate’s Dave Wiegel that the lame duck session is “likely to be bland” and “noncontroversial.”