“I think he’s one of the weakest speakers in living memory,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), a onetime congressional staffer now serving his third term.
Sometimes the rebellions have strengthened Boehner’s hand, setting the terms of negotiation with the Senate further to the right.
Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that House GOP leaders agreed to a 2-month extension of the payroll tax cut on Thursday. (Dec. 22)
Highlights of legislation renewing payroll tax cuts, jobless benefits approved by the House and Senate.
That’s what happened in February. The House rank and file forced more conservative legislation and Boehner wrung $38 billion in spending cuts from 2011 agency budgets after weeks of talks with Obama.
This week, Boehner sat isolated as never before. His staunchest ally, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), returned home to Louisville and stayed silent after House Republicans rejected the deal that McConnell negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
McConnell left a meeting in Boehner’s office last Friday believing the House could pass the bill, leading to an overwhelming 89 votes of support in the Senate on Saturday.
About six hours after that vote, Boehner convened a conference call with House Republicans and created the impression in some minds that he supported the Senate bill.
One by one, rank-and-file Republicans pressed “#1” to weigh in, denouncing the plan. No one tried to force the lawmakers to support the measure for the good of the Republican Party.
“That conversation has never been had, at least I can speak personally. There’s never been a time when I’ve had a conversation with someone who said, ‘We have to do this for politics,’ ” said Rep. Renee L. Ellmers (R-N.C.), a former nurse elected in 2010.
The leadership team held a meeting in the Capitol basement Monday night to outline its plans, which included late-night votes that would include a formal rejection of the Senate bill. That wasn’t good enough.
In a raucous two-hour meeting, the Republicans protested holding the vote late at night and declared that they did not want to vote against the Senate bill but preferred to vote for something.
Once again, Boehner gave in. On Tuesday, just past noon, the House voted on a complicated procedure that rejected the two-month extension and requested a formal conference committee with the Senate to negotiate a long-term plan.