At one point, Duncan said, Mulvaney picked up a Bible and read a verse from Proverbs 22: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
“It’s telling me to really be bold, to really fight for structural changes,” Duncan said.
“Mulvaney snapped the Bible closed. And I said, ‘Guys, that’s all I need to see,’ ” Duncan said. “Tim said, ‘Yep.’ And we stood up and walked out.”
Boehner has faced challenges as well, or at least the perception of challenges, from his own leadership team. Cantor long has been seen as, if not a direct rival, an uncertain ally to the speaker in some of the battles.
It was Cantor, others say, who played the most direct role in helping to upend the initial round of negotiations between the speaker and the president. Over the past two weeks, however, Cantor has stood firmly with Boehner.
McCarthy’s whip operation has come in for criticism for its handling of the Boehner bill that was pulled from the floor. Veteran Republicans say the current whip operation is far less effective than those in previous Congresses.
Freshman Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a reluctant supporter of the original Boehner plan, said he appreciated the speaker’s willingness to give in without punishing those who held out. But he pointed to Boehner’s next problem, which will be corralling a bipartisan majority for whatever compromise that may emerge from the weekend. “There’s been an amazing test of his leadership already,” Rokita said, “and his test may not be over.”
Staff writers Rosalind S. Helderman, Paul Kane, Lori Montgomery and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.