Conservatives to Boehner: Avoid ‘theater’

February 4, 2014

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Two leading House conservatives told The Washington Post on Tuesday they do not want House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to move toward a dramatic standoff on the debt limit, signaling a break from the combative fiscal politics they have long championed.

“We should bring up a clean debt ceiling, let the Democrats pass it, and just move on,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) agreed. “It’s theater,” he said, commenting on the latest flurry of stories about possible GOP plans. “It’s going to end up being clean anyway. I don’t see anything they can put on the table that I would support as some sort of tradeoff.”

Both Amash and Labrador said they would not criticize Boehner if he moved to pass an extension without strings attached, saying many conservatives want to focus on issues where policy wins are possible.

The pair’s shift, away from their usual battling, could give Boehner an opening in the coming days, should Republicans fail to coalesce around a debt-limit demand that could win broad support.

It’s also a rare development. Amash and Labrador both declined to support Boehner during last year’s speaker elections and have long been a thorn in the side of the leadership, often urging GOP brass to be more aggressive, especially during last year’s government shutdown.

Robert Costa is a national political reporter at The Washington Post.
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