‘I got overrun, that’s what happened.”
That was House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) explaining to President Obama how he wound up at the head of a party that pushed the government into a two-week-plus shutdown amid an ideological scuffle over the Affordable Care Act, according to a behind-the-scenes report in Politico.
Boehner emerged — once again — as a tragic figure this past week as he tried to lead his party to water only to realize — once again — that it would rather go thirsty.
Sensing that the compromise being brokered by the Senate to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling was going to be well short of what House Republicans wanted, Boehner rolled out a proposal Tuesday morning that would have, among other things, eliminated the employer contribution for congressional staffers under the health-care law — a move that would have allowed House Republicans to declare a minor victory in the shutdown.
It turned out that they didn’t want even that win. After Boehner spent a full day lobbying his conference to back the bill and promising a vote by late Tuesday, the legislation was pulled from the Rules Committee in the late afternoon, and the leadership admitted defeat.
That left the speaker with one option: to bring the deal worked out by the Senate to the House floor for a vote, the very scenario he had been hoping to avoid. The legislation that ended the shutdown and raised the federal debt limit passed with just 87 Republicans voting for it — the fourth time in 2013 that Boehner has brought a major bill to the floor that was approved with a minority of Republican votes.
It wasn’t all bad news for the speaker. His consistent support over the past month for the tea party conservatives’ desire to defund or delay Obamacare strengthened his hand among the four dozen or so lawmakers who had long been restless under his leadership. But that was a small victory in a larger war that Boehner lost.
John Boehner, for getting run over by your party, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.