How John Boehner Is Setting Up a Crucial Week for His Leadership

The shutdown clock is ticking, again.

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on February 26, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
Matt Berman
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
March 1, 2015, 5:51 a.m.

Some­body is go­ing to get burned by House Speak­er John Boehner this week. And he does not have very much time to de­term­ine who it will be.

After cut­ting a last-minute deal Fri­day night to fund the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment for one week, the speak­er now has a vi­tal choice to make: Does he stand with the con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers of his party who in­sist that the fund­ing meas­ure must be used as a chance to block Pres­id­ent Obama’s im­mig­ra­tion ac­tion, or does he work with Demo­crats and the mod­er­ates in his own party to pass a clean fund­ing meas­ure that avoids a DHS shut­down but leaves im­mig­ra­tion alone.

In an ap­pear­ance on “Face the Na­tion” Sunday, Boehner staked out his ground against the pres­id­ent, sound­ing much as he did throughout last week: “I made it clear we’re go­ing to do everything we could to block the pres­id­ent’s ex­ec­ut­ive over-reach, and that’s the basis of the prob­lem we’re try­ing to deal with.” Boehner blamed Sen­ate Demo­crats — who re­peatedly blocked the House’s ori­gin­al DHS bill, which in­cluded im­mig­ra­tion lan­guage — for that pro­cess fail­ing.

Boehner wouldn’t go much fur­ther though in dis­cuss­ing the split with­in his own caucus on what to do next. “We do have some mem­bers who dis­agree from time to time over the tac­tics that we de­cide to em­ploy,” Boehner said, adding that “the goals are all the same.”

Demo­crats say Boehner prom­ised them last Fri­day that he would give them a vote on a clean DHS bill be­fore this com­ing Fri­day’s shut­down dead­line. Con­ser­vat­ives on the Hill and off it in­sist that not only would such a move leave what they see as Obama’s ex­ec­ut­ive over-reach un­touched, but it would also set a dan­ger­ous tone for the dur­a­tion of this Con­gress, es­tab­lish­ing an early pre­ced­ent un­der Re­pub­lic­an con­trol sug­gest­ing that lead­er­ship won’t stand strong against the minor­ity.

Asked Sunday if he made such a prom­ise to House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, Boehner said, “The prom­ise I made to Ms. Pelosi is the same prom­ise I made to Re­pub­lic­ans, that we fol­low reg­u­lar or­der.”

And it’s not just DHS fund­ing that Boehner has on his plate this week. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu will give a highly con­tro­ver­sial speech to Con­gress on Tues­day, after re­ceiv­ing an in­vit­a­tion to do so in Janu­ary from Boehner. That speech comes just weeks be­fore Is­raeli elec­tions, which has the White House and some oth­er Demo­crats fum­ing. Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Ad­viser Susan Rice has called the speech “de­struct­ive” to the U.S.-Is­rael re­la­tion­ship.

“What I do won­der,” Boehner said Sunday, “is why the White House feels threatened be­cause the Con­gress wants to sup­port Is­rael and wants to hear what a trus­ted ally has to say.” The speak­er ad­ded that “the an­im­os­ity between the White House and the prime min­is­ter is no secret here in this town.”

Des­pite the last week’s tu­mult, there’s no real in­dic­a­tion right now that Boehner’s speak­er­ship is in jeop­ardy. No Re­pub­lic­ans have plans to oust him, and there’s no clear chal­lenger wait­ing in the wings. But this week, with the shut­down clock again run­ning, may just set the tone for the dur­a­tion of his lead­er­ship and show wheth­er or not he’s able to keep his party to­geth­er while en­sur­ing that the gov­ern­ment stays open.

Asked by guest-host John Dick­er­son if he likes his job, Boehner said, “Most days, Fri­day wasn’t all that fun, but most days.”

“It was just messy,” he said. “And I’m not in­to messy. I en­joy be­ing in a le­gis­lat­ive body. I en­joy all the per­son­al­it­ies. And I’ve got a lot of them.”

What We're Following See More »
HE WAS 83
Charles Manson Dead
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Manson "died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83. ...Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times."

Source:
AT ISSUE: COMEY FIRING, SESSIONS’S RECUSAL
Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Source:
MULVANEY SAYS PROVISION ISN’T A DEALBREAKER
Trump May Be OK with Dropping Mandate Repeal
14 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."

Source:
FRANKEN JUST THE BEGINNING?
Media Devoting More Resources to Lawmakers’ Sexual Misconduct
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."

Source:
STARTS LEGAL FUND FOR WH STAFF
Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
2 days ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login