So the latest news is John Boehner has lost control of his caucus and, as a result, the Washington dysfunction continues. Personally, I blame the US Supreme Court. As I see it, the basic problem is the complete collapse of party discipline. House GOP members simply have no reason to fear Boehner.
Two developments account for this phenomenon and the Supreme Court is at the bottom of both:
1. Gerrymandering. The House today is dominated by safe seats in which most GOP members of Congress fear a challenge from some far right loon than they do the general election. This means groups like the tea party and Heritage Action and Club for Growth have outsized voices. It also drags GOP House members so far to the right that compromise becomes almost impossible. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has consistently refused to rule that partisan gerrymandering violates the equal protection clause. Given that the political parties have no interest in doing away with partisan gerrymandering, the SCOTUS was the only organ of government that could have done something about this mess.
2. Party financing. If House members were dependent on the national political parties for the bulk of their campaign finances, party leaders would have vastly greater power to discipline the Ted Cruz wannabes in the caucus. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court in FEC v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission upheld sharp limits on political party spending and fundraising. These disastrous decisions left parties on the sidelines, while empowering PACs and 501(c)(4)s. On the GOP side, this has meant groups like Heritage Action and the tea party have as much if not more power than the RNC.
If the Supreme Court had been more aggressive in policing gerrymandering and less aggressive in restricting political parties, House whips might actually be able to whip.