After Tuesday night's 257-167 vote to keep Homeland Security funded through September thanks largely to the votes of House Democrats, House Speaker John Boehner finds himself right back where he was before the midterm elections, according to Politico.
That is, Politico said, he's wedged between a desire to "govern" (e.g., to cooperate with a liberal White House) and to placate conservative Republicans, with the latter now demanding to see results from the party's crushing electoral victory in November.
And finally, there are Boehner's staunchest political allies
in the GOP who want to see him marginalize conservatives who clash with him on hot-button issues such as illegal immigration.
Boehner's allies outside Congress — specifically the American Action Network,
which launched a political ad campaign targeting opponents of DHS funding legislation that included monies for President Barack Obama's executive amnesty program —
"seek to isolate" Boehner's sharpest Republican critics, Politico said.
For the first time since he became speaker, the lawmakers closest to Boehner are openly
questioning whether he will be able to effectively govern, and many Republicans doubt he can win another term as speaker, according to Politico. Boehner's position is said to have been weakened to the point that the best arguments his political allies can make is that no one else wants his job —
not exactly a ringing endorsement of his leadership ability.
"I would ask the question this way: 'If not John Boehner, who?'" said Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline, current chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which Boehner led close to two decades ago.
"And the people in opposition to Mr. Boehner cannot tell you who that would be … If not John Boehner, who is going to step in and fill that job?" Kline said.
Yet Boehner's most hardcore conservative GOP critics "are even less impressed with their leader than they were when they voted against him two months ago, if that’s possible," Politico said.
That was highlighted when the House passed a "clean" DHS funding bill using an arcane legislative procedure permitting the House to agree with the Senate's position —
that the DHS funding bill should be stripped of legislative language defunding Obama's executive amnesty.
The move, which most conservatives regard as a capitulation, took place after the speaker spent the past two months promising to fight Obama "tooth and nail" on allowing millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country without having to worry about deportation.
"I don’t think there’s an argument to be made that our speaker has gotten stronger since Jan. 6," the date of the vote for House speaker, said Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, a leader of GOP opponents of amnesty.
Many Republicans don't fear Boehner "because he's not into retribution," said Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "But I am not sure of whoever else would want the job."
Boehner and his political allies deny making any "deal" with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to engineer House passage of the DHS funding bill with the anti-executive amnesty provisions stripped out.
It may not have been a "deal," Roll Call reported,
but there was an "understanding" between House Democratic and Republican leaders that helped grease the skids for passage of the legislation.
All Democrats voted in favor of the bill, but just 75 Republicans —
less than a third of the GOP contingent in the House —
joined the Democratic bloc to hand Obama a huge legislative victory.
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