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Dick Morris: Boehner Move on Debt Bill Could Cost Him Speakership

By Todd Beamon   |   Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 05:55 PM

House Speaker John Boehner's future may be in jeopardy for supporting the "clean" debt ceiling that was passed on Tuesday because "the tea party groups will hate him," political strategist Dick Morris told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

"That may ultimately cost him his speakership," Morris, who served in the Bill Clinton White House, told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV. "It may be very difficult for Boehner to continue as the House leader."

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Boehner, 64, the Ohio Republican who was elected speaker last year, was among 28 House Republicans who backed a one-year extension of the nation's borrowing limit with no restrictions — capitulating to President Barack Obama's demand for a debt-limit increase without any conditions.

Boehner had considered tying the bill to a provision to defund Obamacare or to a repeal of planned cuts in military pensions.

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The Senate passed a similar version of the bill on Wednesday, on a 55-43 vote that was all supported by Democrats. That vote came after Republican leaders helped clear a filibuster hurdle by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

After Tuesday's House vote, the Senate Conservatives Fund released a fundraising letter calling for Boehner's replacement as speaker. Another conservative group, the Club for Growth, urged legislators in both houses to reject the measure.

"The grass-roots groups are outraged — and that is significant because they're saying, 'Why the hell did we vote to elect a Republican House of Representatives when they can't even get $6 billion in military pension spending in the budget and return to that?'" Morris said.

"And they get no cuts, government spending goes crazy — and they're right," he added. "But they should be equally outraged at the hypocrites who represent them in Congress."

While Boehner's support of the clean debt bill appeared to have bucked the Republican rank-and-file, it actually saved many from having to "walk the plank," Morris said.

"On the surface, it appears that he moved against the majority of his caucus," he began. "If you continue to do that, you become a bipartisan speaker. You become not the leader of your caucus, but a bipartisan speaker for the Congress — which sounds good, but it's not what our system's about.

"You're not the leader of the Republican Party when you can attract only 28 votes to a piece of legislation you're backing with every fiber of your being. But that's the surface.

"Underneath, what's happening is very different," Morris continued. "The Republican Party, including his harshest critics, are going to church on Sunday to thank God that Boehner did this because with Boehner not making them walk the plank, all but 28 of them get to vote against raising the debt limit, and the Democrats who have to walk the plank to follow Obama's orders voted for it.

"When they run for re-election, every Republican can say: 'I voted against raising the debt limit. My Democratic opponent voted for it.' Boehner is taking a hit from the party and is protecting 90 percent of his own caucus.

"The 28 guys who had to walk the plank and vote to give the Democrats the majority to pass it, those 28 Republicans are all safe — most of them are unopposed. Most of them are in districts where they can just skate through.

"We should not think that the Republican caucus, the Congress, is outraged at the speaker," Morris concluded. "They're thankful."

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