Some Democrats wonder whether “we have just institutionalized the squirrel cage,” he said, “because we’ve got other deadlines” coming up.
“We’ve sidestepped the opportunity for this to be major reform,” he said. “Some of us have concerns we’re going to be right back into this for the entire [new] Congress, and it’s not going to be easier to resolve. It’s very likely to be harder.”
Of course, plenty of Republicans also were unhappy with this week’s deal.
Although the House ratified the compromise on a 257-167 vote, Republicans opposed the final deal by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. Even at the highest levels of leadership, House Republicans were split.
“This is the beginning of this Congress getting really serious about cutting spending,” he said.
Mr. Boehner likely will be re-elected speaker Thursday, the first day of the new Congress. But the true test of whether he can continue to lead House Republicans will come in the next few months as his colleagues — and outside conservative pressure groups — react to how he handles the next phase of the debt-reduction fight.
The last few weeks have been a wild ride for Mr. Boehner. The Ohio Republican spent the holiday season being whipsawed by the most conservative elements of his conference. The speaker tried to appease the tea party wing of the party before Christmas with a vote to allow tax increases only on high earners making more than $1 million.
When that failed to attract enough GOP support, the speaker threw up his hands and handed control of the fiscal cliff negotiations to Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who crafted the final deal with Mr. Biden.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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