Boehner predicted Senate Democrats will fold and pass the Boehner debt bill if it can get through the House.
“This is the bill,” Boehner informed a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Wedneday morning. “I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”
By early afternoon, Republicans had picked up about a half dozen new yes votes.
Boehner’s hard line came as there was a serious internal blowup over the Republican Study Committee, a bloc of conservative lawmakers chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio). Jordan, who is opposed to the Boehner plan, was forced to apologize on Wednesday after an RSC staffer sent out e-mails to outside conservative groups asking them to target GOP lawmakers to oppose the leadership proposal. House Republicans were infuriated by the RSC tactic, which even targeted dues-paying RSC members, with some threatening to quit the group.
At one point during the closed-door meeting, House Republicans turned on the top RSC staffer responsible for the emails, Paul Teller, chanting: “Fire him, fire him!” while Teller stood silently.
The RSC flap comes after Boehner had to postpone a vote on his proposal until Thursday after the Congressional Budget Office said it fell $150 billion short of the $1 trillion goal that the speaker set for budget cuts. Many GOP lawmakers are still undecided whether they will back the measure.
Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have stepped up their pressure on GOP lawmakers to back the leadership’s plan, a two-part proposal to slash spending while allowing only limited debt ceiling increases. Cantor told members on Tuesday to “quit whining” and throw their support behind the Boehner plan.
While the delay has been seized on by Democrats and opponents of the bill as the latest sign of Republican dissension, some top aides to rank-and-file members indicated the extra day on the floor vote may be a blessing in disguise. It would give Boehner, Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) more time to get members in line. The House leadership is currently revising the bill to lower the borrowing authority included in the bill. And a number of freshmen Republicans appeared to be shifting toward supporting the bill, if it meets spending-cut targets.
Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) told members that his panel would mark up the new version of the Boehner package on Wednesday, signaling it will come to the floor the tomorrow.
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