Congress Prepares for Frenzies Both Before and After Boehner Departs

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.18.34 AMCARL HULSE Monday, September 28, 2015

Good Monday morning. Had things not happened as they did on Friday, we would still be telling you in this space about the week ahead in Congress as a government shutdown loomed ahead at midnight on Wednesday. But the news that Speaker John A. Boehner would step down next month increases the sense of disarray facing congressional Republicans, and it throws a mighty big wrench into a system that already had plenty of wrenches to go around.

Members of Congress return on Monday to face a three-day deadline to avert a government shutdown and a Capitol Hill transformed by Mr. Boehner’s stunning decision to resign at the end of October.

Mr. Boehner’s announcement on Friday significantly shifted the dynamic headed toward the end of the federal fiscal year at midnight Wednesday. He expressed confidence Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Democrats would join with some Republicans to fund the government through Dec. 11. Had he not stepped aside, his reliance on Democrats to keep the government open without meeting conservative demands to end spending on Planned Parenthood would have most likely generated a vote to remove him as speaker.

he Senate is to vote on Monday to begin debate on the stopgap measure it hopes to send to the House by Wednesday at the latest. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, is using a legislative tactic that limits the ability of opponents like Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, to block the measure through filibuster. It should be only a matter of time before the measure passes, fulfilling Mr. McConnell’s pledge to avoid a shutdown — at least for now. What happens in December with the House under new leadership is anyone’s guess.
With the threat of an immediate shutdown dwindling, the House will be consumed by emerging races to fill leadership vacancies. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican and current majority leader, is the favorite for speaker, but serious races are expected for majority leader and majority whip.
Lawmakers were exhausting their phone batteries over the weekend trying to round up support. No date for the leadership elections has been set, and House Republicans are likely to first meet to discuss the state and direction of their conference in the post-Boehner era.