Various leaders of various Tea Party organisations are starting to talk openly about fielding a candidate to challenge House Speaker John Boehner (R) in next year’s Ohio Republican primaries. John Heilemann of New York magazine reports: “Already Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, has called for a primary challenge to the speaker in 2012. (“Charlie Sheen is now making more sense than John Boehner,” Phillips wrote in a recent blog post.) And that threat was echoed at last week’s tea-party rally.”Such a challenge probably wouldn’t amount to much (Mr. Boehner’s constituents aren’t stupid). But it’s indicative of how quickly (and how much) the Establishment GOP-Tea Party alliance has soured that such a scheme would even be mentioned.
The more immediate threat to Speaker Boehner is a Tea Party-led insurrection within the GOP House caucus. Heilemann again:
On that last CR (continuing resolution) vote, 54 Republicans defected. About as many would be likely to do so again. And one of them, according to Republicans on the Hill, might well be (House Majority Leader) Eric Cantor—a turn of events that would be highly interesting, to say the least, and also potentially portentous.
Indeed, the specter of a Boehner-Cantor split over a budget deal was the talk of Washington last week, fuelled by the majority leader’s conspicuous efforts to put space between himself and the speaker. At a moment when Boehner was leaving open the possibility of another CR, Cantor loudly slammed his foot down: “Time is up here,” he said. And even as Boehner was privately moving toward agreeing to the $33 billion figure being offered by the other side, Cantor firmly insisted that $61 billion “is the House position—that is what we are driving for.”
Now, it’s not inconceivable that what was happening here was a classic bit of good cop, bad cop. But given the overt pressure already coming from the tea party and the freshmen, it’s not as if another snarling law dog was needed on the beat. A more Machiavellian—and, to my mind, more plausible—explanation is that Cantor is seeking to bolster his credentials with the tea party as a replacement for Boehner should an insurrection arise against him.
In Washington, this mini-drama gets interpreted as follows: Boehner: $33 billion, Cantor: $61 billion, who caves?
“I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors. That’s unacceptable,” Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, said in a statement.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Monday that a tentative plan to cut $33 billion from the budget is “not enough” in a sign that negotiators were having trouble reaching a deal to keep the government running beyond a Friday deadline.
The tricky part of all this is that because of new rules passed precisely because Speaker Boehner wanted them passed, the House now requires that all legislation be posted for 72 hours on the Internet before it can be debated or voted on. What that means, unless the rules are waived, is that the budget deadline is not midnight, April 8th. The budget deadline is tomorrow.
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