Those who spent New Year’s Day following the twists and turns of the fiscal cliff legislation were probably surprised that it passed the House by a robust 257-167 margin. Actually, it was never in doubt that the bill would sail through the House. What was in doubt was whether Speaker John Boehner would let it come up for a vote. Conservatives had hoped to pressure him into replacing it with a bill more to their liking.
In the end, Boehner did the right thing: When a big House majority is behind a piece of legislation on an urgent national priority, it should come to a vote. Holding up an otherwise surefire vote to appease an extreme conservative faction would have been a misuse of the rules. Sadly, such procedural hold-ups are business as usual in Congress these days, but Boehner deserves at least a little recognition for not carrying the practice to suicidal extremes.