Throughout the debt ceiling debate one of the most forefront questions has been whether or not Speaker of the House John Boehner will be able to introduce legislation that most of the Republican caucus will vote for or legislation that a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats will vote for. This week the speaker has tried to move through legislation that could pass the House with just Republican support, but yesterdays vote in the House disengaged due to lack of support from his own caucus. Much of the analysis of this failure will look at the divides in the Congressional Republicans, or on were the power will shift to in the aftermath.
However, the events of the past few weeks put into sharp relief the difference in leadership and power of the last two people to hold the gavel in the US House of Representatives. Last year when Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi held the gavel she was able to hold together a divided Democratic Caucus to pass the Health Care Reform bill, and before that she was able to pass the Recovery Act. While the divides in the Democratic caucus were not as wide or as deep, they were there, and Pelosi was able to find the numbers. Speaker Boehner may have brought a bigger gavel with him, but it’s much lighter than the one Pelosi used so effectively.