The Problem With Gridlock is You Can’t Threaten More Gridlock, John Boehner
If a party controls one house of Congress and decides to take a stand of total opposition to the President they can easily deny the White House any legislative victories. It can be a very effective tactic for making a President look weak. The big drawback of this strategy is that they also lose any leverage over executive actions.
When there is legislation moving there are always things to trade and points of leverage. There are elements you can threaten to withhold unless certain administrative changes are made. But if you are holding up everything by default there is nothing left to take away. You have already played all your cards.
House Republicans seem to be struggling with the realization that this state of powerlessness over the administration’s executive actions is a direct result of their own action — or inaction, as the case may be. For example you have Speaker John Boehner warning executive action on immigration would make a bill impossible to pass, but that is not much of a deterrent when the chances of a bill passing are incredibly remote anyway.
A party in Congress can work with the President and gain some leverage, or they can completely cut the White House off and be left with no power over executive action whatsoever.
The GOP has chosen the later and the Obama administration seems to have finally accepted this is not just some passing fever that will break. So we can expect the next few years in DC being mainly about the administration taking actions and Republicans left just trying to come up with clever new ways to complain about them.
Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license