House Conservatives Holding Their Tongues (At Least For Now)

by Andrew Stiles

On a call with members over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) urged his caucus to remain united as the August 2 deadline closes in. Any break in the ranks, he argued, would only strengthen the other side’s hand in negotiations. Because weekend talks with congressional Democrats failed to yield an agreement, House GOP leaders are expected to unveil the details of their own debt-reduction plan at a 2 p.m. conference meeting today. Boehner, on the weekend call, offered a rough outline of the plan and said the plan will “reflect the principles” of the House-passed “Cut, Cap and Balance” legislation, which was largely crafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee. However, that doesn’t mean conservative and freshman members will support it — nearly 40 have signed a pledge promising not to vote for a debt increase absent the full enactment of “Cut, Cap and Balance.”

NRO has been seeking comments and reactions from normally outspoken conservative and freshman members, but to no avail, even receiving a number of “no comments.” Regardless of what the plan looks like, a lot of these members won’t be happy and many will vote against it. They are still sore from disappointment over the Boehner-Obama “budget deal” in April to avoid a government shutdown, which 59 Republicans voted against. Freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R., Ill.), one of the 59, told NRO last week that House conservatives vowed this time around to be far more vocal and aggressive in their opposition to a watered-down compromise. It will be interesting to see reactions coming out of this afternoon’s meeting once members get a chance to see the details of leadership’s plan, and see to what extent Boehner and company might be able to rein in dissent within the caucus. The party is hiding its cracks for the moment, but that could all change as the week progresses.

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