Possibly the most dramatic development to emerge from the closed-door session of Republican House members on Saturday before the vote to delay funding of the Affordable Care Act was the stronger and more confident image of Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership.
Early Sunday morning, the House passed 231-192 a continuing resolution that delays implementation of Obamacare for a year. In addition, the Republican version of the CR includes an end to Obamacare’s tax on medical devices and continues to fund the government through December 15. It also contained continuing pay to the U.S. military in the event of a government shutdown.
But, after a week of stories in the media suggesting Boehner and his GOP leaders had lost control and that the Republican Conference was dominated by the “tea party,” lawmakers themselves had a different opinion.
Emerging from the meeting, and prior to the vote on the continuing resolution by the full House Saturday evening, GOP members told Newsmax that Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the rest of their leadership were very much in charge and that all 233 Republican members were “on the same page.”
“Leadership made a very good impression,” stalwart conservative Rep. Tom McClintock of California told Newsmax. “We are united behind the continuing resolution.”
Half-in-jest, McClintock cited as an example of the unity that “even Justin Amash was for this.”
Widely considered the closest thing to a pure libertarian among his Republican colleagues in the House, Amash of Michigan not only supported the new CR but spoke in favor of it the Saturday conclave.
Another congressman said that when Amash finished voicing his endorsement of the CR, Boehner – well aware of the Michiganian’s iconoclastic reputation – said: “Darn it! We must have done something wrong!”
“They started by serving us lunch, and I told someone ‘they’re feeding us, so something bad is coming down,'” Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, another member identified with the tea party, told Newsmax. “But that wasn’t the case. We’re unified on this one. And this new CR is the work of the leadership, which listened to the individual members.”
While praising the new CR and the role leadership played in moving it, McClintock, Stockman and others said they fully expect Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic-controlled Senate to give a “thumbs down” to their measure.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma is not as convinced as others in Congress that it is hopeless to count on Democratic senators to come over and support the delay championed by his Republican colleagues. As he put it, “[West Virginia Sen.] Joe Manchin has already said he supports the year-long delay.”
“If I were [Democratic Sens.] Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, or Kay Hagan, all of whom will have difficult re-election races in 2014, I’d tell Harry Reid ‘Mr. Leader, putting this thing off for a year isn’t such a bad idea.'”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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