But others have said that it will be the deal, and not the salesman, that will make up their minds.
“I think most people like myself are looking for far more than what’s probably going to be able to be delivered” in any deal engineered by the Senate, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) said. “We’re going to have to evaluate it. . . . There’ll probably be some room for improvement from the House perspective.”
These last, frantic days of the 112th Congress make a sharp contrast with its first day, when Boehner took his gavel, cried and promised to be a new kind of speaker.
There would be no earmarks, those hometown spending projects used to win over wavering members in the past. There would be less of the traditional backroom arm-twisting. Members could choose their own agendas, vote their own consciences.
“The House works best,” Boehner said, “when it is allowed to work its will.”
Since then, aides say, the speaker had achieved many of his ambitions: Washington’s focus has turned toward spending cuts instead of spending increases. Many House members have spoken happily about the freedom Boehner has given them to pursue their interests.
But it turned out that Boehner’s pledge was in direct conflict with another of the speaker’s goals. As the top Republican in Washington, Boehner also wanted to be a tough negotiator with President Obama and Reid (D-Nev.).
To do that, he needed the House GOP to line up solidly behind him. Time and again, it did not.
In April 2011, Boehner struck a deal to avert a government shutdown. He lost 59 Republican votes. In August 2011, he cut a deal to avert the debt-ceiling crisis. That time he lost 66 Republicans. In February, he agreed to a compromise that kept payroll taxes from rising. That time there were 91 defections.
This month, Boehner sought to engineer a show of force, to demonstrate that his caucus was really behind him on the fiscal cliff. The speaker sought a vote on “Plan B,” which would have allowed taxes to rise only on marginal income above $1 million per year. That would have affected only a tiny sliver of the population: 400,000 families.
But conservatives revolted at the idea of voting to let taxes go up on anybody. Boehner pulled the bill. “Plan B” became an unintended show of weakness instead.
Since then, some conservatives outside Washington have called for a coup against Boehner. And even earlier, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) had nominated former speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) to have his old job back, according to news media reports.
But — barring a major disaster in the next few days — Boehner’s job seems safe.
Hill staffers say there are few potential challengers with the independent support, and the incentives, to take Boehner on. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has stuck close to Boehner in this current crisis. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the popular former vice-presidential nominee, seems unlikely to want a party-splitting coup attempt.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) just lost a race for the fourth-highest spot in the GOP hierarchy — making him an unlikely choice for the speakership.
“It’s not some sort of sign of impending doom here by any stretch of the imagination,” said Huizenga, the freshman. “I think Boehner’s solid in his support from the caucus.”
Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Kane contributed to this report.