A Senate Deal Solves Nothing—It’s All About Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) leaves after meeting with Republicans on the government shut down on Oct. 12, 2013, in Washington.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Reports are floating around today that Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have reached a deal that would reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling. It’s an interesting development, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about it soon, but it can’t be emphasized enough that a Senate deal doesn’t actually solve anything.

After all, back before the government shut down, the Senate passed a “clean” continuing resolution that funded the government at the GOP’s proposed level but didn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act. The reason the government shut down is that House Republicans wouldn’t allow that clean CR to come to the floor. If they had brought it to the floor, it probably would have passed. But it didn’t. And this continues to be the issue with any deal. What McConnell says or does may matter in some psychological or sense in terms of “optics.”

But in the real world what matters is what the House GOP leadership wants to do. So far throughout this crisis, Boehner and his team have put caucus unity ahead of the good of the economy. And since Boehner’s caucus includes a lot of people who are acting crazy, prioritizing caucus unity keeps leading to crazy outcomes. The only way out of this box is for Boehner to stop doing that.

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the government shutdown.