The breakdown in the legislative process is unprecedented in recent Congressional history, in large part because former Speakers such as Pelosi had greater control over their Members.
The effect of earmarks on previous difficult votes also cannot be overstated. Pelosi and her predecessors were able to use funding for pet projects as a way to muscle wayward Members into line on difficult votes. But with the GOP’s earmark ban in place, Boehner does not have that luxury.
Correction: July 29, 2011
An earlier version of this story misstated Rep. Kevin McCarthy's party affiliation. McCarthy is a Republican.