Like a Buddhist monk meditating, House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want you to confuse his lack of movement with nothing going on. Here’s some evidence that he was serious when explaining this weekend that House Republicans not passing bills was an accomplishment.
Permit us a bit of lead-up for this one.
In the annals of bill numbering, H.R.1 is the slot usually used for a majority party’s very top legislative priority — it’s quite literally their number-one goal. By way of example, the Senate Democrats this Congress made an immigration reform bill their equivalent, S. 1.
Last Congress, House Republicans’ priorities were evident: H.R.1 was a bill repealing the health-care law known as Obamacare (although we noted at the time that House leaders hadn’t come up with their lesser goals, as represented by H.R. 6-10).
But this Congress, which began in January, the House Republicans’ number-one bill is ... nothing. Not yet, at least.
Look up H.R. 1, and all you see is a notation explaining that the space is “Reserved for the Speaker.” Boehner announced this year that it’s being held open for a big tax-reform bill that Republicans are crafting.
It’s unclear when that package will be ready for unveiling, though Boehner has called it one of House Republicans’ “highest priorities.”
The same goes for H.R. 2 — that slot’s still open, too. At least they’ve got a Plan C — H.R. 3 is a bill that would allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“We should not be judged by how many new laws we create,” Boehner told CBS’ Bob Schieffer in an interview that aired Sunday. “We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”