House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) finally seems to have gained the trust of Tea Party conservatives.
All it took was a government shutdown and threat of default threat in a botched attempt to stop Obamacare. The resulting bipartisan deal out of the Senate will come to the Senate floor, after Boehner failed to convince his caucus on Tuesday to vote for his slightly more onerous alternative to financing the government through Jan. 15 and raising the debt limit through Feb. 7.
“I’ve been really proud of Speaker Boehner,” said Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) at a Tuesday panel of conservative lawmakers sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
By hanging tough on a commitment to defund and then delay the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the speaker appears to have earned the respect of the hardliners in his caucus at the cost of his party’s reputation.
Earlier this year, several conservative Republican congressmen plotted to overthrow Boehner after the fiscal cliff deal led to an income tax hike on Americans earning more than $450,000. But Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said there is “absolutely no talk” of a Boehner coup this time around.
However, the standoff caused the popularity of the GOP to plummet. A mere 28 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Republicans, the lowest reading tracked by the Gallup Organization since it started asking the question in 1992.
Their posturing failed to derail Obamacare, since the Senate deal would only require the verification of incomes from Americans who receive subsidies under the health insurance program. The abandoned House Republican alternative would have also delayed the medical device tax by two years, but Boehner could not drum up the votes within his own caucus.
By no means are Tea Partiers happy with the outcome—a fact that doesn’t bode well for broader budget negotiations that are slated to take place through Dec. 13. The showdown revealed deep splinters within the GOP, as Republican congressmen in competitive districts such as Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania complained to the media about the strategy of the hardliners.
These moderate congressmen—who saw themselves as pragmatists—are the new source of Tea Party ire, possibly opening fights in the 2014 primary elections. Labrador suggested that their public objections weakened the GOP’s hand, rather than the strategy embraced by Boehner.
"It is not very helpful,” he said, “when you have person after person going to the media and whining about how difficult it is."