Speaker John Boehner may be trying to finalize a plan to raise the debt limit, but House conservatives are already skeptical of his efforts. In interviews, several of them tell me they’re unlikely to support any deal that may emerge.
“They may try to throw the kitchen sink at the debt limit, but I don’t think our conference will be amenable for settling for a collection of things after we’ve fought so hard,” says Representative Scott Garrett (R., N.J.). “If it doesn’t have a full delay or defund of Obamacare, I know I and many others will not be able to support whatever the leadership proposes. If it’s just a repeal of the medical-device tax, or chained CPI, that won’t be enough.”
Representative Paul Broun (R., Ga.) agrees, and says Boehner risks an internal rebellion if he decides to broker a compromise. “America is going to be destroyed by Obamacare, so whatever deal is put together must at least reschedule the implementation of Obamacare,” he says. “This law is going to destroy America and everything in America, and we need to stop it.”
“Stay the course, don’t give in on it, that’s what the people in my district are saying,” says Representative Ted Yoho (R., Fla.). “We did a town hall the other day, and 74 percent of people said, ‘don’t raise the debt ceiling.’”
“I think you’d see at least 50 to 60 Republicans break with Boehner if he went for something small,” predicts a House GOP aide who works closely with conservative members. “They’re also reluctant to even give Boehner a short-term debt-limit extension unless he gets something big in return. But that’s the one area where Boehner may have room to maneuver. He could tell them, ‘I’m with you fighting, but let’s just extend the fight a few weeks.’”
“Look, I would have to see it, but we’re at a place where we’re stronger than I thought we’d be, so I hope we stand strong,” adds Representative Steve King (R., Iowa), when I mention Boehner’s push for a bargain. “We’ve passed the witching hour, so the dynamics have changed, and we shouldn’t turn around. I think Boehner’s in a good position, and it’s important we keep up that unity.”
Meanwhile, House GOP centrists are increasingly nervous that the right flank may end up overly influencing Boehner’s next move. “A big deal would be great, but we’ll have to wait and see,” says Representative Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.). “We’re trying to talk to [the conservative wing] about the impact shutdown has in suburban, moderate, and competitive districts like mine, and I hope they listen. But Ted Cruz sold them this line, and they’ve run with it.”