Boehner’s Many Challenges

by Jonathan Strong

Earlier I wrote about how the plan for a short-term debt-ceiling extension originated from conservatives who wanted to refocus the fight back on Obamacare and the government shutdown. Representative Raul Labrador proposed the idea to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and it was also discussed by some of the conservative outside groups.

That’s all true. But some important caveats are coming to the fore, in conversations with GOP lawmakers and aides digesting the plan.

First, one iteration of the proposal that Boehner eventually embraced called for not a “clean” six-week debt-ceiling extension but one with dollar-for-dollar cuts and debt-prioritization language attached. Labrador himself says he did want some conditions attached to the bill but he wasn’t going to “quibble” with the details as announced by leadership. Others may want to quibble.

Secondly, it’s not clear what Boehner’s exact game plan is. Some conservatives are concerned he could turn around after the clean debt ceiling has been enacted and pass a clean, short-term continuing resolution as well. That would act to merge the two fights into one again. A few minutes ago, Politico reported that’s what Boehner is considering, but Hill reporters are currently receiving fierce denials from leadership offices that it’s not true. Even if it were true, it would be important to keep it under wraps for now, making it more difficult to decipher.

Throughout this debate, Boehner has moved several times to delay, hoping that the extra time and political pressure could help him achieve the strategy he wants to pursue at a later date. That may be what’s happening now as well.

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