Could the federal government shut down again this fall? Th idea sounds absurd on its face, especially one month before an election, and one year after Republicans took a drubbing in the polls for forcing a shutdown over Obamacare. But it could happen. Congress is currently on course for a battle to keep the federal government funded when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Even though the two parties agreed to a discretionary spending level of $1.014 trillion for fiscal year 2015, the appropriations process has screeched to a halt over extraneous policy issues and procedural disputes. And so a stopgap measure appears inevitable.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday the House will consider a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown once Congress returns from summer recess on September 8. The funding measure will probably expire in mid-November, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a deputy majority whip, told TPM.
Once Congress returns from the August recess, it’ll have a mere 10 working days to agree to a bill before the government partially shuts down. And there are two contentious issues in particular that are roped in with the CR debate.
The first is reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which supports billions of dollars in U.S. exports and thousands of American jobs through loan guarantees and other products. Its charter expires on Oct. 1, and many House conservatives, including incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), are enthusiastic about shutting the bank down, bashing it as an emblem of corporate welfare and crony capitalism. Senate Democratic leaders recognize that and may force the issue by attaching renewal of the bank to their CR.
"Well, the thing we’d like to do is pass a long-term approval of the Export-Import Bank but we certainly don’t want to let it expire. We’re weighing all options," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, told TPM when asked if leadership will attach Ex-Im to the CR.
Passing such a bill through the Senate shouldn’t be a problem. Democrats broadly support Ex-Im renewal and a significant number of Senate Republicans do, too. “I think we do need to have an Export-Import Bank because we do need to be global competitively,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said. “We don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The question, in that case, becomes whether House Republican leaders back down and accept such a bill. That would anger conservatives who are campaigning to shut the bank down and cost Republicans some support within their own ranks.
"I think it should be a clean CR," Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told TPM. "I may end up opposing a CR if it has [Ex-Im] attached to it. Because I oppose the reauthorization."
The second issue is the battle over President Barack Obama’s recently proposed rules on coal-fired power plants to combat climate change. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who faces a tough reelection fight in his coal-heavy state, has aggressively fought to attach his amendment blocking the rule to appropriations legislation — an idea Senate Republicansstrongly support — and has vowed to continue offering it on all government funding measures.
The problem is Senate Republicans would arguably feel most of the pain of a government shutdown in the Nov. 4 elections, jeopardizing their chance to win the majority. So it’s unclear they’ll push the issue. With Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promising that the amendment won’t fly in the Senate, McConnell faces a choice: filibuster government funding legislation or surrender his best opportunity to reverse the climate change rules.
McConnell will want to avoid doing anything that damages his odds of becoming majority leader in January. But his fighting words make it hard to back off.
"Everyone knows the administration’s war on coal jobs is little more than an elitist crusade that threatens to undermine Kentucky’s traditionally low utility rates, splinter our manufacturing base, and ship well-paying jobs overseas," McConnell said Thursday on the Senate floor, promising he’ll "keep fighting" for his amendment.
Portman said he’s hopeful that because both sides have agreed on how much the government should spend, “I think we can avoid a government shutdown.”
Cole, a Boehner ally, also expressed hope Congress can avert a shutdown.
"I think so," the congressman told TPM, although he added that it’s not a certainty. "Could you stumble into a bad situation? It’s always possible. But I think people are working hard to avoid that sort of thing."
GOP Majority Leader/Whip Update: Kevin McCarthy named Majority Leader, Steve Scalise named Majority Whip
BREAKING: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) elected House majority whip.— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) June 19, 2014
Washington Post reporting US Rep. Scalise edges Rep. Peter Roskam and Rep Stutzman for House majority whip, wins on first ballot.— Dave McKinney (@davemckinney123) June 19, 2014
WE NOW KNOW WHO WILL BE RUNNING TO REPLACE ERIC CANTOR AS HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Raúl Labrador Will Challenge Kevin McCarthy For House Majority Leader
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) will challenge House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) to replace Eric Cantor as the next House Majority Leader, he announced in a statement Friday.
“I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference. A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together,” Labrador, first elected to the House in 2010, said. “A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party. Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that.”
Labrador’s entrance adds some competition to the race after some McCarthy challengers either declined a run (Rep. Jeb Hensarling) or abandoned one (Rep. Pete Sessions).
Source: Dylan Scott for Talking Points Memo
Just days after Rep. Eric Cantor was ousted in a Republican primary, right-wing media are outraged at the ideological credentials of his likely replacement as House majority leader. Conservatives are calling Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “dimwitted,” “pro-amnesty,” and “just another in a long line of big spenders who thinks the Democrats in charge of government are the problem, not government itself.”
The Washington Post reported that McCarthy is the “overwhelming front-runner” to be the majority leader after he “appeared to have consolidated ranks in almost every corner of the House GOP caucus and seemed well positioned to win next week’s snap election to succeed Rep. Eric Cantor.” The Los Angeles Times similarlyreported McCarthy “is all but assured of becoming the next House majority leader.”
Cantor has endorsed his “dear friend” McCarthy, stating: “He’d make an outstanding majority leader, and I will be backing him with my full support.”
But the prospect of McCarthy replacing Cantor has drawn strong condemnation from conservative pundits, including radio hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, who campaigned against Cantor.
On his June 10 broadcast, radio host Mark Levin said Republicans need “a conservative in that slot, not that dimwitted McCarthy.” On June 12, Levin said that McCarthy has positions that “are identical to Cantor’s and Boehner’s. He’s a moderate Republican, he’s pro-amnesty. He was the Republican whip. Do you know what the Republican whip means? It means whip them into line. Whip the votes into line. He not only went along with [House Speaker John] Boehner and Cantor on all these issues, but he was the enforcer.” Levin also tweeted, “House GOP learned nothing from Cantor defeat; pushing disastrous McCarthy for majority leader.”
Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said on the June 11 edition of Fox & Friends that McCarthy is “kind of joined at the hip” with Cantor and Boehner on immigration reform. She added that if “they put Kevin McCarthy in there, I think they’re creating more problems for themselves.” On her radio show on June 12, Ingraham said McCarthy “is more out there on immigration reform, I think, coming from California too, than Eric Cantor was. So if you loved Eric Cantor, you’re going to just — you’re going to have a man crush on Kevin McCarthy. That’s going to work out really well for us.”
Erick Erickson wrote a June 11 RedState post headlined, “Not McCarthy.” The Fox News contributor wrote that “McCarthy is not very conservative and, for all of Cantor’s faults, lacks Cantor’s intelligence on a number of issues. Lest we forget, McCarthy had several high profile screw ups as Whip and has not really seemed to ever improve over time.” In another post called “The Stupid Party,” Erickson wrote that McCarthy “is just another in a long line of big spenders who thinks the Democrats in charge of government are the problem, not government itself.”
The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein wrote that if “Republicans respond to the shocking primary defeat of Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., by elevating his handpicked successor Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., it would be beyond tone-deaf. It would be pure absurdity.” Klein went on to complain that McCarthy “voted for a Hurricane Sandy relief bill that included spending that was unrelated to providing emergency aid, fought for the farm and food stamp bill, fought reforms to the federal sugar program, and backed an extension of the corporate welfare agency known as the Export-Import Bank.”
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor tweeted that “GOP picking McCarthy shows DC elites are not serious about listening to grassroots. They need to lose more elections” and ”#GOP desperate to lose base by backing McCarthy. #tonedeaf.”
BREAKING: Eric Cantor to Step Down as Majority Leader, Will Not Be Entering 2014 Campaign Again As A Write-In
WASHINGTON — Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, will resign his leadership position within weeks, according to leadership aides. The move follows a stunning defeat in a primary election Tuesday in which voters rejected him in favor of a more conservative candidate.
The move culminated a precipitous fall for Mr. Cantor, who was thought to be a likely successor to Speaker John A. Boehner.
By stepping down as majority leader, an aide to Mr. Cantor said, he hoped to limit a festering struggle within the House Republican caucus over who would assume his post.
Mr. Cantor attended a meeting with other members of the leadership Wednesday morning in advance of a larger meeting of Republican members set for 4 p.m. He definitively told aides and other Republican leaders that he would not mount a write-in campaign this fall against the Tea Party candidate, David Brat, who defeated him soundly in the Virginia Republican primary.
He declared, “To run a write-in campaign is to run not as a Republican, and I am a Republican,” according to witnesses who were at an extended leadership meeting in the Capitol.
Where Eric Cantor Won and Lost
Map of the results and charts of his margins in previous elections.
Top House Republicans called a 4 p.m. meeting of all Republican members as the scramble to remake the Republican leadership swung into high gear just hours after Mr. Cantor’s surprise defeat. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 3 Republican, made it clear he will seek Mr. Cantor’s soon-to-be-vacant No. 2 slot. But he will be challenged by Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, the House Rules Committee chairman.
Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mr. McCarthy’s chief deputy whip, will square off against Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, for Mr. McCarthy’s House majority whip position.
But other wild cards are looming. Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, publicly thanked House colleagues for encouraging him to join the leadership race.
“There are many ways to advance the causes of freedom and free enterprise, and I am prayerfully considering the best way I can serve in those efforts,” he said.
Other potential challengers include Representatives Tom Price and Tom Graves of Georgia.
The contest between Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Sessions will tug hard at the Tea Party class of 2010.
Mr. Sessions headed the National Republican Congressional Committee the year of the Tea Party wave, and he enters the leadership race with the large Texas delegation behind him.
But Mr. McCarthy headed candidate recruitment in 2010. He pushed to expand the electoral map into long-held Democratic districts, pursued unusual candidates that he believed fit the newly drawn districts of 2010, and crisscrossed the country on their behalf. He also brings his own large whip operation to the race to counter the Texans.
House Republicans said the longer the fights fester below the surface, the more chance the campaigns could turn ugly and spread, sweeping in other targets, even Speaker John A. Boehner. One senior House Republican said, the party “can’t have a leadership race muddle all that we do until the November election,” and he encouraged leaders to make sure the races wrap up before the July 4 recess.
Another member said the faster the races can be run, the better the chance Mr. McCarthy has to become majority leader – and Mr. Cantor wants to smooth his advance. Otherwise, he added, “chaos could rein.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning loss to his tea party challenger on Tuesday will create the biggest disruption for GOP lawmakers since the departure of Tom DeLay eight years ago, and throws open the question of who will be the next speaker after John Boehner leaves.
It’s unclear how long Boehner plans to stay on, or whether Cantor’s defeat will alter the Ohio Republican’s thinking on his own future. There has been speculation for months that Boehner could step down after Election Day, or before the end of the next Congress, with Cantor in place as his certain successor.
Now, with Cantor’s shocking defeat, the GOP succession question for the “after Boehner” period is wide open, and Republicans will spend at least the next five months jockeying for a newly open spot at the leadership table.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, the current No. 3 in the House, is all but certain to run for the majority leader post, GOP sources said. McCarthy’s office declined to comment on Cantor’s loss or McCarthy’s plans.
But the California Republican likely will be challenged by a member of the conservative wing of the House GOP Conference, potentially including Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Jim Jordan of Ohio or Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
And a full-scale war will break out for majority whip, with Scalise, McMorris Rodgers and Reps. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) all possibilities for that post.
Roskam had already started unofficially running for whip, if the job came open. A GOP aide said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) decided to officially seek the whip job after receiving a number of calls Tuesday night from conservatives in the party urging him to run after Cantor lost.
GOP Rep. Paul Ryan is next in line for the Ways and Means Committee gavel and has said he wasn’t running for leadership, a stance he may now have to rethink.
Other leadership hopefuls could also emerge, especially among freshmen or sophomore members, although some of the most visible members those classes are running for Senate, leaving Congress or have other roles at this time. This group includes Reps. Jim Lankford (R-Okla.), who is running for Senate; Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), another Senate hopeful; Tim Griffin (R-Ark.); and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who is chairing the Benghazi select committee.
Yet Cantor’s pending disappearance from the top Republican ranks, coupled with questions over Boehner’s future, mean this leadership scramble could decide who runs the GOP Conference for the next decade, similar to how the Boehner-Roy Blunt battle to replace Tom DeLay played out in 2006.
Boehner, of course, won that fight and eventually became speaker when Republicans took back the House in 2010. For those Republicans eyeing leadership runs, the lessons from that fight could tempt them to go for the brass ring now, or risk losing out to a more ambitious rival and facing long-term fallout.
“You’ve seen the shadow campaigns … that get talked about all the time but then [members] deny it,” said a former Republican leadership staffer. “Tomorrow, you’re going to start hearing that people are seriously considering a run. It will be blown up. By the end of the week, we’re going to see who is interested and who is not.”
“This flushes out the Hensarlings and the Jordans. If they say they are not interested, then they are not interested and the conference has to move on. It’s important to make sure the conference has time to move on and vet a leader,” the former staffer added.
Republicans were stunned by Cantor’s defeat, as was all of Capitol Hill. Cantor had spent part of the day in House leadership meetings and on the floor dealing with a 2015 spending bill, and his staff and allies expressed total confidence that he would win. Cantor’s office had already released a memo outlining the June voting schedule, and his aides were trying to assemble an even longer-range floor schedule.
“Eric Cantor and I have been through a lot together. He’s a good friend and a great leader, and someone I’ve come to rely upon on a daily basis as we make the tough choices that come with governing,” Boehner said in a statement late Tuesday night. “My thoughts are with him and Diana and their kids tonight.”
McMorris Rodgers also praised Cantor, saying it was an “honor” to work with him.
“I’ve known Eric since I first came to Congress, and he’s been a great friend and colleague. It is a true honor serving with him — as a leader for both the people of Virginia and America. My thoughts are with Eric, Diana, and their family,” she said.
When the news broke on Tuesday evening, House members were still in the Capitol for a series of evening votes. The results began trickling in showing Cantor losing, which led to the unthinkable question, “What if Cantor loses?
Cantor’s loss could also dramatically alter the Republican legislative agenda for the next five months. Cantor had been scrambling to craft GOP health care bill to replace Obamacare — trying to piece together plans from wide corners of the party that could win support from a majority of Republicans. GOP leadership aides were tentatively planning for a series of health care related votes following the July 4th recess.
If a number of Republican Study Committee members hop into the race, it could raise the prominence of their health care alternative. Scalise launched a push just last month to pressure Cantor to schedule a vote on that bill.
Immigration reform will be another victim of the loss. Cantor was a moderate supporter of Republican plans to overhaul the current system — a point Brat used against him in the race. With such a high-profile sacrifice, it’s likely that even moderate Republicans will back away from reform or risk being labeled amnesty backers.
Dark Horse candidates that I’d also wager: Tim Huelskamp, Marsha Blackburn, Todd Rokita, and/or Jim Bridenstine could be considered for leadership roles.
h/t: Lauren French and John Bresnahan at Politico
The Republican National Committee sent a message to President Barack Obama Friday: the GOP is not moving on from Obamacare.
The Republicans’ message came in the form of a web video, posted one day after the president announced 8 million people had signed up for private health insurance using the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. During the announcement, Obama said it was time for Republicans “to move on to something else,” and chastised states that chose not to expand Medicaid “for no other reason than political spite” against him.
"You have 5 million people who could be having health insurance right now at no cost to these states, zero cost to these states, other than ideological reasons, they have chosen not to provide health insurance for their citizens," Obama said during a press conference Thursday. "That’s wrong. It should stop. Those folks should be able to get health insurance like everybody else."
Republicans argued that “Americans don’t think it’s time to move on” in the video. Some prominent Republicans personally promised to keep up the fight against Obamacare, with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying “Republicans cannot and will not accept this law.” The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also released a statement, according to NBC:
If the president is so confident in his numbers, there is no reason not to release transparent and complete enrollment data, and answer the questions, how many enrollees were previously uninsured and how many people had lost their previous plans due to Obamacare.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — who led the charge in 2013 to tie funding for Obamacare to a continuing resolution to the fund the government, a strategy that ultimately shut down the government for 16 days, cost $2 billion in lost productivity and made no changes to the health care law — tweeted the following after Obama’s remarks Thursday:
One plan: Force the speaker to step aside before the new year.
Several dozen frustrated House conservatives are scheming to infiltrate the GOP leadership next year—possibly by forcing Speaker John Boehner to step aside immediately after November’s midterm elections.
The conservatives’ exasperation with leadership is well known. And now, in discreet dinners at the Capitol Hill Club and in winding, hypothetical-laced email chains, they’re trying to figure out what to do about it. Some say it’s enough to coalesce behind—and start whipping votes for—a single conservative leadership candidate. Others want to cut a deal with Majority Leader Eric Cantor: We’ll back you for speaker if you promise to bring aboard a conservative lieutenant.
But there’s a more audacious option on the table, according to conservatives involved in the deliberations. They say between 40 and 50 members have already committed verbally to electing a new speaker. If those numbers hold, organizers say, they could force Boehner to step aside as speaker in late November, when the incoming GOP conference meets for the first time, by showing him that he won’t have the votes to be reelected in January.
The masterminds of this mutiny are trying to stay in the shadows for as long as possible to avoid putting a target on their backs. But one Republican said the “nucleus”of the rebellion can be found inside the House Liberty Caucus, of which he and his comrades are members. This is not surprising, considering that some of the key players in that group—Justin Amash of Michigan, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky—were among the 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner’s reelection in January 2013.
Amash, chairman of the Liberty Caucus, warned at the time that there would be a “larger rebellion” down the road if Boehner’s leadership team did not bring conservatives into the fold. Such an insurrection never materialized, however, as Boehner deftly navigated a series of challenges last year and wound up winning over some of the malcontents.
But conservatives, increasingly irritated with what they see as a cautious approach taken by their leadership, are now adamant that Boehner’s tenure should expire with this Congress.
"There are no big ideas coming out of the conference. Our leadership expects to coast through this election by banking on everyone’s hatred for Obamacare," said one Republican lawmaker who is organizing the rebellion. "There’s nothing big being done. We’re reshuffling chairs on the Titanic."
Boehner isn’t the only target. The conservatives find fault with the entire leadership team. Privately, they define success as vaulting one of their own into any one of the top three leadership spots. But they think they’re less likely to accomplish even that limited goal with a narrow effort focused on knocking out one person or winning a single slot. That’s why this time around, unlike the ham-fisted mutiny of 2013, rebels are broadening their offensive beyond Boehner’s gavel.
Cantor, next in line for speaker and once considered a shoo-in to succeed Boehner, has found himself in conservatives’ crosshairs in recent weeks.
With Boehner out of town in late March, Cantor was charged with pushing a “doc fix” bill across the finish line. When it became apparent the measure might not clear the House floor, Cantor authorized a voice vote, allowing the bill to pass without registered resistance. This maneuver infuriated conservatives, who felt that leadership—Cantor in particular—had cheated them. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Caroline yelled “Bullshit!” outside the House chamber.
Some conservatives are still seething.
"I’m getting used to being deceived by the Obama administration, but when my own leadership does it, it’s just not acceptable," Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said last week, after Cantor met with a group of angry Republican Study Committee members.
Cantor told conservatives that a voice vote was “the least-bad option,” given the circumstances. But many Republicans aren’t buying it. Moreover, they said that with Boehner out of town, Cantor had an opportunity to impress them with his management of the conference—and didn’t.
"It’s an issue of trust. If you want to have a majority that is governing, and a majority that is following the leader, the rest of us need to be in a position where we trust our leadership," Labrador said this week, adding, "When you have politicians actually playing tricks on their own party, and their own members of Congress, I think that erodes the trust the American people have in the rest of us."
"I can’t think of a time where I felt my trust had been more violated since I’ve been here—and that’s pretty stiff competition," Mulvaney added.
Cantor’s allies say the whole episode has been overblown. But there’s no question that it has stirred fresh disillusionment within the rank and file. And it’s not just the tea-party members up in arms. One House Republican who is friendly with Cantor, and hardly viewed as a troublemaker, predicted, “If there’s another vote like [that], Eric won’t be speaker. Ever.”
This backlash has emboldened some of leadership’s conservative critics. Now, they say, they might try to force Boehner out and also demand that Cantor bring on a conservative deputy before agreeing to vote for him as speaker.
"Eric would make that deal in a heartbeat," said a Republican lawmaker who supports Cantor but opposes Boehner.
Neither Cantor nor his office would comment on leadership races.
Even if Cantor does ascend to speaker, there could be fireworks further down the leadership ladder. Doubts persist about whether Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Cantor’s closest friend in Congress, should earn a promotion to majority leader. The Californian is universally well liked, but some colleagues aren’t sold on his performance as whip. And if McCarthy does earn the No. 2 spot, there will almost certainly be a free-for-all to succeed him as whip, imperiling the expected advance of Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam.
Amid all the bold talk about Boehner and Cantor and the other leaders, some conservatives are thinking smaller. There is talk of meeting with leadership officials this fall and making demands about steering committee appointments and chairmanships. The idea would be to redistribute the decision-making and shake up what Rep. Louie Gohmert calls the “centralized, stovepipe dictatorship” that runs the congressional wing of the GOP.
Some members are convinced that Boehner will spare everyone the drama and decide to leave on his own. Sources close to the speaker have begun leaving the exit door ever so slightly open, and rumors of his retirement are now running rampant throughout the conference.
"All of this hinges on whether John is running for reelection," Mulvaney, who refused to vote for Boehner’s reelection in 2013, said of the potential leadership shuffling.
"I’d say about 80 percent of us expect him to step down after the elections," added one House Republican who has known Boehner for many years.
Boehner insists that he’ll seek another term as speaker.
"Speaker Boehner is focused on the American people’s top priority: helping our economy create more private sector jobs," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "He has also said—publicly and privately—that he plans to be speaker again in the next Congress."
But conservative plotters promise that, unlike 15 months ago, they’ve got the numbers to prevent that from happening. Even if they can’t recruit an alternative to pit against him, they’ll tell Boehner in the November conference meeting that they plan to vote against him on the House floor in January “until kingdom come,” one GOP lawmaker said.
It’s similar to the strategy conservatives used in 1998 to depose Speaker Newt Gingrich, who gave up his gavel in November once it became apparent that conservatives had the numbers to block his reelection on the floor in January. In this case, Boehner won’t be able to win a majority vote of the House if a large bloc of conservatives sticks together and votes against him. Sooner rather than later, the conservatives predict, the speaker would spare himself that humiliation and step aside.
But as of yet, there is no sign of a serious conservative challenger willing to run for a top leadership job, let alone for Boehner’s.
Organizers are actively recruiting two highly respected conservatives—Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Jim Jordan of Ohio—hoping that one will agree to lead their opposition movement. But both have told colleagues they aren’t interested. And the other frequently discussed scenarios, such as RSC Chairman Steve Scalise running for whip, would hardly qualify as the splash conservatives are determined to make.
The attempted overthrow in 2013 failed in part because conservatives didn’t have an alternative candidate for on-the-fence Republicans to rally around. Now, with each passing day, organizers fear history could repeat itself.
"Somebody has to step forward," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, one of 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner’s reelection in 2013. "This is not something where after the election you can step forward. There’s going to be months and months of [planning] needed."
Allies of the current leadership team dismiss the legitimacy of any challenge to the ruling order, and they predict that any conservative coup—especially one aimed at winning the speakership—will fail. One senior Republican said that there are only “three Republicans capable of winning majority support to become speaker of the House: John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan.”
House Republican leaders said on Wednesday they will move forward with a plan to defund Obamacare in a three-month continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.
"We’re going to continue to do everything we can to repeal the president’s failed health care law," Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters after a weekly conference meeting. "This week, the House will pass a CR that locks the sequester savings in, and defunds Obamacare. … We have a plan that we’re happy with," We’re going forward."
The GOP’s aim is to pass the stopgap legislation out of the House by the end of this week. If and when the Senate rejects it, the backup plan is to pass a “clean” continuing resolution.
"I’ve not watched our conference be so united as we walk into this battle," said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The move augments the risk of a government shutdown on Oct. 1 as Senate Democrats and the White House have categorically vowed to reject any provisions to defund the health care law. Conservative advocates aren’t likely to back off their demands that Republicans hold firm and refuse to fund Obamacare in a continuing resolution.
"We’re now waiting to see what the House of Representatives is going to do — how absurd it is going to be what they’re going to send us," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Wednesday. "We know it’s going to be something really strange and weird because the Speaker has to do everything that he can to try to mold a piece of legislation that will meet the needs of the tea party, the anarchists — and I say that without any equivocation."
This wasn’t the route House GOP leaders wanted to take. Conscious that their party is likely to be blamed for a shutdown, their original plan would have locked in low spending levels while avoiding the shutdown confrontation over Obamacare that is now inevitable.
But leaders backed down and gave in to the conservative uprising. Part of the new strategy is to hand the fight to their colleagues in the upper chamber and prove to ultraconservatives like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that they’re on a fool’s errand.
"There should be no conversation about shutting the government shutdown," Boehner said. "That’s not the goal here."
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said House Republicans will propose a plan in the next week to delay Obamacare while lifting the country’s borrowing limit. GOP leaders are eying other goodies to bring conservatives on board, such as approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
President Barack Obama reiterated moments later he won’t negotiate on raising the debt limit.
"What I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern, where by the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to set policy," he said at the Business Roundtable Headquarters in Washington, DC. "It’s irresponsible."
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi couldn’t be more clear: The Bush tax cuts for the rich have to expire.When ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked Pelosi in an interview whether she would accept a deal that did not include tax rate hikes for the rich, the House’s top Democrat had a short answer: “No.”
“The president made it very clear in his campaign that there is not enough—there are not enough resources,” Pelosi said in an interview aired Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
“Just to close loopholes is far too little money … If it’s going to bring in revenue, the president has been very clear that the higher income people have to pay their fair share.”
Despite that, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is trying to pretend otherwise, telling Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer that Pelosi and President Obama aren’t on the same page on the budget.