Skip to comments.Inside the Meltdown (The Inside Story Behind the Collapse of Boehner's Plan B)
Posted on 12/21/2012 5:18:03 AM PST by SeekAndFind
At a quarter to 8 p.m. on Thursday night, House Republicans gathered in the Capitol basement for an urgent, closed-door conference meeting. The scene was hushed and confused. Instead of huddling in a windowless room, members thought theyd spend the evening on the House floor, voting on Plan B, Speaker John Boehners fiscal-cliff proposal. But as they took their seats and looked at Boehners face, the reason for the gathering became clear: The speaker didnt have the votes. The whipping was over. Plan B was dead.
Boehners speech to the group was short and curt: He said his plan didnt have enough support, and that the House would adjourn until after Christmas, perhaps even later. But it was Boehners tone and body language that caught most Republicans off guard. The speaker looked defeated, unhappy, and exhausted after hours of wrangling. He didnt want to fight. There was no name-calling. As a devout Roman Catholic, Boehner wanted to pray. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, he told the crowd, according to attendees.
There were audible gasps of surprise, especially from freshman lawmakers who didnt see the meltdown coming. Boehners friends were shocked, and voiced their disappointment so the speakers foes could hear. My buddies and I said the same thing to each other, a Boehner ally told me later. We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and just groaned. This is a disaster.
Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, a burly former car dealer, stood up and urged the conference to get behind the speaker. How the hell can you do this? Kelly asked, according to several people inside the room. A few of Boehners critics told Kelly to stop lecturing, but most were silent. They had been battling against Plan B all week, and quite suddenly, they had crippled the leadership. Boehner sensed the tension, requested calm, and then exited the room.
Since the meeting lasted only a few minutes, several members, such as Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, missed the session. As Huelskamp, a leading Plan B adversary, rushed to get there, he saw a stream of his colleagues exiting. They were on their phones with aides and family members, sharing the news. Theyd be coming home for the holidays since the House was in a state of chaos. Some of them, however, seemed bewildered by the turn of events. They walked slowly down the basement hallway, whispering with other members. One freshman asked a senior member, Are we really not coming back? The senior member simply nodded. Almost everyone avoided the press. Feelings were raw. Representative Steve King of Iowa, a frequent Boehner critic, looked at me, shook his head, and said, I have nothing to say.
Boehner and his leadership team soon departed. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP whip, who hours earlier was meeting with on-the-fence members over Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his office, left the Capitol looking distressed. So did Eric Cantor, the majority leader, who had spent the past two days wooing backbenchers. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman and recent Republican vice-presidential candidate, strolled out of the Capitol with Representative Tom Price of Georgia, a popular conservative who has expressed his unhappiness with Boehners cliff strategy. The pair declined to discuss the drama, but they both looked tired and frustrated.
Upstairs by the House floor, which was now closed after Boehners announcement, a handful of senior members discussed the whip count. They decided to go out for drinks near Union Station, in order to avoid their colleagues whod be hanging at the Capitol Hill Club on the House side. I dont want to talk to the people who ruined this, at least right now, a retiring House member told me. They dont get it. Another senior member told me that Boehner was always going to struggle with the whip count since most House conservatives have little interest in seeing the speaker strike any kind of deal. Boehner was trying to play chess and the caucus was playing checkers, he said, sighing. Boehner is willing to lose a pawn for a queen. Im not sure about the rest.
Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a conservative with libertarian leanings, was stunned. As he walked back to his office, he said the episode was unfortunate, even though he was planning to vote against the measure. For the past month, since House leaders booted him off the budget committee, he has been railing against Boehner for his management style. But even Amash wondered whether the House GOP was making the right move. Too many people in there were arguing that this thing is a tax increase, and I dont think thats what Boehner was trying to do, he said. As much as he disagrees with Boehners approach, even he regretted how the speakers plan was killed.
Aides to House leaders stayed later than their bosses, talking to reporters and trying to spin the collapse of Plan B as something better than a complete failure. As the clock neared 9 p.m., they tried mightily to project strength, but the energy among all Republicans, members and staffers, was sapped. There were no upbeat talking points, no chummy gaggle. This is a talkative bunch of people, but on this dreary night, not so much.
Their deflated spirits were understandable. Earlier in the evening, House Republicans appeared to be close to passing Plan B with the requisite 217 votes. There are 241 Republicans in the House, and Boehner could risk 24 defections. In the final public whip count, which was documented by The Hill, fewer than 20 conservative members were opposed to the plan. But things began to fall apart in the early evening, when the margin on a spending vote was narrow. That vote was part of Boehners Plan B package, and a replacement for the defense sequester. Since that vote was narrow, the vote on Boehners larger plan to extend most tax rates would probably be even narrower, leadership aides predicted.
So, GOP leaders called for a recess, and spent the dinner hour doing a final try for 217. All day, McCarthys whips were very nervous about where Plan B stood, but for the most part, they didnt let their uneasiness show. They thought that Boehner would find a way to get there. Boehner, who rarely gets involved in the whip process, spent Wednesday night on the House floor, shaking hands and talking with members, asking them for their support. He also went to a meeting of McCarthys whips, and encouraged them to make a hard sell.
But when conservatives, over and over again, refused to budge, Boehner personally decided to end the entire thing and pull it from the floor. If he didnt have the support of his conference on his own plan, hed walk away. Hed leave the fiscal cliff in the hands of Democrats. Boehner had spent weeks negotiating with his members and the president. But in this final hour, when he needed Republicans most, he had only a prayer.
Robert Costa is National Reviews Washington editor.
This was an interesting read, but as I went on an on, I started thinking to myself, wait a minute. Boehner is no great calculating strategist. He’s no victim. Please! We’re at this point becuase of his feckless leadership. The National Review has gone around the bend when it comes to real conservatism.
Maybe making bad decisions about committee assignment set the tone of this and future agreements.
When some insight was needed Costas came up with it. Thanks for the posting
The seeds were sown when Boner came up with the Fiscal Cliff deal in the first place.
Sometimes kicking the can down the road puts the kicker in the ditch.
>>>> They dont get it. Another senior member told me that Boehner was always going to struggle with the whip count since most House conservatives have little interest in seeing the speaker strike any kind of deal. Boehner was trying to play chess and the caucus was playing checkers, he said, sighing. Boehner is willing to lose a pawn for a queen. Im not sure about the rest. <<<<<
Tell me again, what would Boehner gain?
Boehner’s problem is that he THINKS he’s trading a pawn for a queen. Who esle with a sane mind thinks that?
Boner crippled himself, starting with the purge.
We are this point because of OBAMA
the newly-elected potus has more power than John Boehner and Boehner has no army smart enough to defeat him, even tactically
What we end up with will be because of OBAMA, not Boehner or any other man
I dont believe these gentlemanly dupes of the ol’ boys club ever calculated that a man like OBAMA would be the president of the US
Since the GOP can’t control him it is up to the democrats to man up and become adults- if there are any patriots left
And so grumbles the GOP-E...
And let’s get it through once and for all,
It is not ‘conservatives won’t deal’, it is OBAMA.
BINGO! the whole scenario was set up by Boner, Reid, and McConnell, who were trying to circumvent the TEA Party freshmen in 2011. Boner therefore has been hoisted on his own petard.
The fun part is that Boner and Cantor are going to try to twist arms to pass Obama and Reid’s plan in the House. Any GOP member voting for the Obama-Reid plan is going to PRIMARIED.
So what happens to this part (Sequestration)? Since it was already passed, will it go on or is it dead because it was part of a package?
Exactly right. With no meaningful spending reductions, all the Tax talk, 2%, middle-class crap means nothing. Just a giant smokescreen.
What is Bobbie at NR pushing press releases for bonner !
This lobbyist front man held secret meetings , did ruthless purges ,
Worried about the K st pork and shows open hatred of conservatives .
And bonner is a victim !
He is a DC insider stooge who reaped what he sowed !
Boner crippled himself, starting with the purge.
Short and to the point....Perfect
“We are this point because of OBAMA”
Nonsense. Speaker Bohener has continually chosen to “negotiate” a deal, i.e. a piece of legislation with the president. That is not how our government works. The president should not play any part in the crafting of legislation except perhaps making calls to individual members or suggesting amendments.
The House is its own entity. It is not a subset of the presidency. The House as a body does not need to check in with the president to find out what he will sign or what he wants. The president can sign it or not sign it when a final bill gets to him.
What he have been seeing is an intentional undermining of regular legislative order, which preserves liberty. In the debt-ceiling deal, Boehner, Reid and Obama acted like oligarchs. They met together in a room and decided what would happen, then strong-armed it into law, representative government and the people be damned. And Reid is acting as a shield to Obama because he won’t bring any bill the House passes to the floor of the Senate, or he does so it get’s voted down. He won’t allow any bill to be amended.
And Bohener has gone along with this, because he’s too weak to say “The House of Representatives will not deal with the president. We will pass bills under regular order and send them to the Senate. If the Senate chooses not to take them up, or amend them, there is nothing I can do. The House and Senate will never get to confernece to agree and the president will not receive any bill and the government will shut down if necessary.”
Seppuku is the only route left Boner. New blood is needed in the leadership. Leadership with backbone and the willing to tell the Washington elite to Go to Hellllllll.
Boner, and his “leadership” team, were willing to sacrifice “millionaires” on the deal-making alter this go-round, which begs the question—Who would be sacrificed next?
When you screw over a part of your contingent (conservatives) eventually they will screw over you.
Most kids in grade school know that.
Boehner attacked Conservatives and got it stuck up his backside.
Conservative don’t want to give away the store and Boehner appears willing to do it.
The National Review has gone around the bend when it comes to real conservatism.
That happened about six months after Bill Buckley died.
Just another example of the masterful shoot-yerself-in-the-foot strategy we've come to expect from the GOP establishment.
Face it, anyone who supposedly wanted to truly cripple the socialist wave sweeping across American politics really wouldn't begin by acting like a socialist, now would they?
The pubbies are more interested in keeping themselves in the game than they are about winning it!
There sure are a lot of unattributed “quotes” in this piece—All designed to make the true conservatives look bad. Meh!
RE: Boner, and his leadership team, were willing to sacrifice millionaires on the deal-making alter this go-round
The thinking in Washington DC always is this — Millionaires are the ones who:
1) Can best afford to lose just a little more of their money
2) Don’t deserve the money they have (because most of them got it undeservedly. Remember “You didn’t build that”?)
3) Should not be greedy and do more with a little less.
Of course nobody but nobody is concerned with the biggest trillionaire of them all who wastes money and still says the money isn’t enough.
I still believe the standalone B tax extension proposal was a great idea and next year it will be painful for them when they swallow a really bad bill next year that Reid and O demand, one that vindicates this.
I knew this was in trouble when they added a repeal of the defense cuts (in effect adding spending) to lure votes to it.
But what really killed this bill was the out-right lie that this tax cut extemsion bill was raising taxes. And when our taxes go up January 1 that lie will be exposed, the tax cuts are automatic as I kept posting over and over, plan B didnt raise any taxes.
If this defeat results in getting O and Reid to cave to better tax deal than plan B and/or with real spending cuts then I will be happy to admit that I was wrong.
But if this backfires I bet many who claimed that this bill would have raised taxes or that O will get blamed next year will not have the honor to do the same.
Outstanding post- perfectly summed up.
Please repost this often.
How has this been allowed to happen??!!
Boner needs to be removed ASAP. F-ing crybaby. Give us a man with real balls- not someone who looks like he is allowed to hold the jar they are in every now and then.
He should resign the speakership, then I'll be happy.
procedurally our entire govt is screwed up in an unprecedented way, it started when our ENTIRE establishmenty acquiesced to having a consitutionally ineligible intellectually unqualified petty thug installed in the highest office as a form of reparations
the problem with evil is that it succeeds when good men do nothing- which brings to question whether they are good men
Boehner is a bit player in this Greek tragedy
We are where we all sit today because of OBAMA and whoever is backing him
Made me mad...I'm sure some of them were REALLY mad.
I have NO sympathy. All the GOP-E has done since 2010 is use the majority the tea-party GAVE them...to screw conservatives.
Let them all eat cake.
As I read through this I kept thinking...
1. He made radical purges to committees
2. I guess there are indeed enough conservatives in the House to have some pull after all.
So, as they go into recess...and the intimidation of the cliff gets more shrill...will the conservative caucus give-in? Will the President come clean that what he wants only runs the government for 11 days?
I mean really? All this drama for 11 days worth of money? Can the republicans get on message about the sheer insanity of 0bama’s position? 0bama’s plan does nothing, accomplishes nothing and for the President to “hold out” on such an inane point is pure stubborness on his part.
Why can’t they get the information out already? I am so sick and tired of hearing it’s the media, it’s the media...THEN GET A STRATEGY TO WORK OVER, AROUND, AND ABOVE THE MEDIA ALREADY!
Well well well. Its about time. Mutiny is in the air. I think we are watching the beginning of the end of Tammy Faye’s speakership. I had a funny feeling he went too far when he dumped Sweikert and Huelskamp and the other two conservatives from their committees. Conservatives are mega pizzed. They finally got sick of being threatened for representing their constituents.
Notice how Paul Ryan has managed to stay out of the line of fire and he was seen waltzing out of the capitol with Tom Price? I think they are going to put Tom Price up for Speaker in the new term. He is from GA and he would be great. We love him here.
Let The Kenyan stew in his own juices while he’s on that $4 million vacation we are all going to pay for. It would have been better had the GOP just brought the Bush tax cuts to the floor and voted to extend them for another 12 months and then adjourned and gone home.
Obama has now indicated he’s not going to Hawaii without a deal.
In other words, Reggie Love is staying in DC while Moochelle is away.
Obama only wants the GOP to fail on every plan. He he will pull every football.
“How has this been allowed to happen??!!”
It has happened in my view because Bohener has been in cahoots with Obama and the democrats all along. They all despise conservatives and have done whatever they could to undermine them. It was clear to me when the House was about to vote for Cut, Cap and Balance and immediately, Mitch McConnell came up with his silly automatic debt ceiing plan, and then Boehner went along and undercut the conservatives. The didn’t want the House to act because they didn’t want to force the Senate to act. So they all met together to circumvent the regular legislative process.
They can still blame conservatives (as they always will) but at least the conservatives stood firm on principle and the speaker’s power and influence are gone. If the House cannot be convinced to pass plan B, nothing Obama would propose would pass either, for the conservatives have not been frightend by the latest scare tactic. First it was Tarp, then it was the government shutdown, then it was the debt ceiling, now it’s the fiscal cliff and tomorrow there will be yet another crisis where bills must be passed immediatley without going through committee, deliberation, debate or multiple votes or amendments. The game is getting old and extremly transparent, to everybody but the republican leadership, who are on the other side of us and the people.
Put this in perspective.
The “Takers” don’t care, a large number of which voted to put Obama back in the WH. They don’t care because they don’t pay taxes anyway. Stupid single parent white women just want their free condoms to continue on with their “personal lives” and their “right to chose”.
Then there is the “Global Warmers” working, upper-middle class and taxpaying “useful idiot” Democrats, except the big-mount “raise my taxes” morons, will be up in arms and want to blame somebody.
There are also the in-between middle-class Democrat voters, who have lost full-time jobs, now reduced to less 30 hours per week by their employers to avoid the ObamaCare mandate. Some of these useful working poor actually pay taxes and will be even be more screwed. Be careful what you wish and vote for Jose.
Republicans WILL have to man-up and take the blame, but they can be clear and articulate that we have a spending problem, and this is the line in the sand.
As much as I dislike Boehner, he tried everything to cut a deal with Obama, but in the end it was clear Obama was laughing at him the whole time and didn’t want a deal anyway. Either way, Obama feels he can blame the Republicans for the cliff, even though he freakin’ OWNS it!
Republicans need to find a loud voice as the communist democrats are going to be LOUDLY going after Republicans for raising taxes on everybody to avoid increasing taxes on the rich - making everybody else pay because the rich don’t want to pay their “fair” share!
Hope this spells the end of “Speaker” Boehner and one with my guts and brains will step up.
Oppps! Note to self “proofread then click POST”.
MY should be MORE.
What a bunch of Hooey. NR is still under the belief that the media would credit the GOP with any thing positive. Nothing that passes the House will make it to Obama’s desk, so WHY give in on a tax hike?
Pass an across the board tax and spending cut and go home. Obama wants the “cliff” no matter what. No give on the debt ceiling.
Elect some leadership with a spine rather than the Weepy Boner.
“Obama has now indicated hes not going to Hawaii without a deal.”
I wish he would get stuck in DC but he will prolly say “oh well since the GOP has left the building I may as well just go on vacation”.
What is Newt’s Phone Number...the GOP-e screwed over him, time for payback
” - - - - conservatives, over and over again, refused to budge - - - “
And so the first successful shot across the RINO’s bow begins! Hip-Hip Howrah! Hip-Hip Hooray!! Hip-Hip Hoorah!!!
Benghazi-Coward B. Hussein Obama had been counting on the Liberal Agenda Media’s drumbeat of the artificial term “fiscal cliff” to distract from the reality that the Democrats have NO intention of ever cutting year-to-year Federal Spending.
Boehner assumed that RINO Power is invincible, and thus he could quickly cave-in to Obama, and the RINO herd would then follow Boehner despite a few Conservative Bumps in the Road to the holy grail of Bipartisan Cave-In.
There will be many more battles with the RINO Herd in the House before the Democrats are forced to cut Y2Y Federal Spending.
Hopefully, the Conservative’s shots across the the RINOs’ bow will soon be at the midship waterline of the SS RINO Line Ship ‘Bipartisan Cave-In.’
"Boehner was trying to play chess and the caucus was playing checkers, he said, sighing. Boehner is willing to lose a pawn for a queen. Im not sure about the rest."
Really, Boehner the strategic genius and opponents are just dummkopfs. Really? Boehner must be the greatest actor in the world, because he's sure played a absolutely convincing dummkopf for 2 years in the few times he's crawled out of his bunker.
Dear RINO's, the goal is to do what is good for the country. You guys seem to think the goal is to do what is in the immediate interest of John Boehner's and your careers. A deal is needed for your careers, and apparently it hasn't mattered, what's in the deal and the damage it'll do to the country (and to the GOP and ultimately to your careers). Who are the dummkopfs here?
boehner has not used the authority given the House of Representatives for 2 years. He could've cut spending. He could've stop funding for ObamaCare. He could've stop funding for Obama's illegal executive orders. Boehner did nothing.
Now, it's finally blown up in his face and you RINOs want to blame the opponents. This was inevitable due to having a Zero for your elected leader and spokesman.
Do you people realize how serious the situation is? Do you realize how angry and worried your voters are? You don't. Where's the urgency? Where are the tough decisions? We've seen nothing after giving you the House for 2 years. You wonder why people didn't turn out to vote? They've given up on the GOP. Do the right thing. Stop Obama. You have the power to do this and you haven't.
“Were at this point becuase of his feckless leadership.”
You are spot on.
Those conservatives in top committee assignments he axed had no incentive to meekly go along with him on raising taxes and getting blamed for it.
I don’t know why everyone is crying. They were Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. No one else was impacted by it. So letting Bush’s tax cuts for the rich expire impacts just millionaires. Boehner got what he wanted.
What? You mean to tell me Bush gave tax cuts to EVERYONE? That’s not what Democrats and the media have been saying for the last 10 years.
You would think that the Republicans would have been in front of the American people telling them this... but noooooooooooooooooo.....
Monica Crowley said it correctly when she stated that the burden should have ALWAYS been on Obama and the democrats instead of Boehner and Republicans. Bad leadership, chess or Yahoo! Obama and Reid demonstrated that they were not willing to deal no matter.
What is insane here is that politicians’ spending is the issue that caused this problem and the same politicians are trying to fix this problem and are continuing to spend money. Look at all the money Obama is promising to governments worldwide and his precious groups. Nothing will change if a deal is reached. They are trying to put a band-aid on a machete wound.