Working in the face of mounting opposition from Democrats and now some Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner is trying to ensure his caucus members are firmly behind him.
During a Wednesday morning meeting with GOP House members, Boehner told the group he needed “an army” standing behind the plan he is planning to introduce. The morning meeting came as a result of the House speaker postponing a vote scheduled for Wednesday.
Boehner’s efforts seemed to have a profound impact on those assembled. Several Republican members, including freshmen that rode the 2010 tidal wave of advocating “no new taxes,” emerged with plans to support their speaker.
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), originally a “no” vote on the Boehner plan, says he is now in the speaker’s corner. “I think the odds [of passage] improve every hour,” Farenthold told The Atlantic.
But not everyone was on board.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is in charge of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said on Tuesday that he was “confident” the Boehner bill would fail. When pressed by reporters after the meeting on Wednesday, Jordan was reluctant to repeat his prior comment, only saying, “I don’t know what the votes are today. I just know that I’m against the bill.”
Jordan also had other issues to deal with Wednesday morning.
A staffer for the RSC sent emails on Tuesday encouraging outside groups to pressure Republican members and ask them not to support Boehner’s plan.
The move “infuriated” many Republican House members when they learned of the email. The RSC is comprised of 175 out of the 240 Republican House members. The group issued an apology Wednesday morning. At the request of lawmakers, the committee responded with a statement.
“Earlier this week, an RSC staffer sent an inappropriate email to outside groups that identified members of Congress he believed were undecided on the debt reduction proposal offered by the speaker,” said RSC spokesperson Brian Straessle in a statement to reporters. “This action was clearly inappropriate and was not authorized by the chairman or any other members of the staff.”
The number one goal today is to determine a solid number of what members will vote “yes” or “no” on.
The House Republican Whip Team, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), is tasked with the job of counting votes and making sure leadership knows exactly where they stand on any issue at any given time. Today’s meeting in part was to gather all members in one room so McCarthy’s handpicked team could get a quick read on where everyone was on the issue.
As of late Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that 10 Republicans were opposed to Boehner’s plan and another 10 were “leaning” no. Of the 240 Republican members, if more than 22 move away from Boehner’s plan then he would have to start relying on moderate to conservative Democrats to make up the difference. Democrat leaders will most certainly be working their members to oppose any plan offered by Boehner.
The speaker was dealt a minor setback when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office stated that the plan put forth by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would reduce the deficit more than Boehner’s plan. However, they relied on over $1 trillion in savings in military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many analysts are reluctant to use any military savings because of factors outside of U.S. control.
In spite of the report, House Republicans still want to see a debt reduction greater than the $1 trillion savings over 10 years mentioned in Boehner’s plan. Some of the more conservative GOP members want to see triple that amount before they will commit to supporting a proposal.
Boehner did tell the Republicans assembled on Wednesday morning that aides were working to address the findings of the CBO and that more cuts are being sought.