Even though House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed Wednesday that his plan to raise taxes on upper-income Americans will pass, he was seen doing something later in the day that he rarely does: Glad-handing colleagues on the House floor.
Though his conversations were inaudible to reporters in the House gallery, Boehner’s body language said it all: He was eagerly seeking out wavering colleagues that might not join him tomorrow in voting for the plan.
With two vacant seats in the House, Republicans will need at least 217 votes to pass the measure. Currently there are 241 Republicans, meaning that if every member shows up for the vote Thursday, the conference can spare 24 defections and still deliver a majority without Democratic support.
So as the House debated and voted on a series of routine bills Wednesday afternoon, Boehner at one point walked along the back wall of the chamber to the last row of Republican seats, where he tapped Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) on the shoulder and pulled him aside for a brief, spirited exchange.
The speaker, trailed by an aide, then proceeded to walk up and down the aisles of the Republican half of the chamber, nodding at some and shaking the hands or patting the shoulders of other members, including Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.). But he avoided discussion with a clutch of conservative Republicans, including Reps. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), as he walked down the center aisle.
Later, as he made one final pass at wavering colleagues, Boehner went to the front of the chamber and briefly sat behind Georgia Republican Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, two conservatives strongly opposed to tax hikes. He was seen waving his hands at one point before getting up to go.
Meanwhile, other Boehner allies, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) were nearby, locked in conversations with Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), among others.
After the votes, Boehner and his leadership team met briefly in his office. At about 5:45 p.m., Cantor, McCarthy and McMorris Rodgers emerged and left without making comments to reporters.