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Sweet: Post-shutdown, expect GOP to push for more sanity

Rep. AarSchock R-Ill. 2009 FILE PHOTO.  (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., in 2009 FILE PHOTO. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

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Updated: November 21, 2013 6:33AM



WASHINGTON—With the miserable latest episode of government dysfunction behind us, it’s time to look ahead.

In the coming weeks, watch for frustrated members of the House GOP to map strategy to gain more control and not let their tea party-allied colleagues highjack their conservative agenda again.

A small group of House Republicans who are part of the tea party movement managed to pressure House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and together they successfully triggered a 16-day partial federal government shutdown and took the nation to the brink of default.

One of the lessons House Republicans learned is the need to speak up and not to let the vocal minority within their own ranks, cranked up by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), suck up all the air in the room.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) is a governing realist — lawmakers will have to create coalitions to navigate through a GOP House, a Democratic Senate and a Democratic White House.

Schock, on CNN on Thursday, called House GOP members who want to govern the “Sane Caucus.”

“I think you are going to see more of us become much more vocal and not be taken for granted when it comes to always counting on our votes,” Schock said.

Congress and the White House these past days merely hit the pause button by approving stopgap legislation. The federal government is funded only through Jan. 15, and the debt limit is raised until Feb. 7.

When it gets close to the next shutdown deadline, President Barack Obama may have difficulty playing the ransom card again.

Obama had issued an ultimatum and stuck to it: that he would not negotiate on budget and related fiscal issues until government opened and the debt ceiling raised.

Now those negotiations are going on, with mighty battles ahead as the GOP wants to cut spending and Democrats are looking for more revenue.

The most important factor now is whether the Obama team can fix the glitches and allow people to enroll more easily in Affordable Care Act health-insurance online marketplaces. If the system remains botched, Republicans of all factions will be enormously emboldened.

When it comes to coalition building, William Galston and Elaine Kamarck of the nonpartisan Brookings Institution have an interesting idea.

“What if it took 60 percent of each body to elect the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate?

“Unless one party commands a supermajority, the very first vote would then test the ability of aspiring leaders to construct the bipartisan coalitions that are so integral to effective governance,” they wrote.

I appreciate an elected official who takes a stand.

But if you want to be in Congress, your job is to figure out how to keep government open — not shut it down.

Email: lsweet@suntimes.com

Twitter: @lynnsweet



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