House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has a message for his conservative members: cool your jets on the most politically volatile issues for now — we have an election to win.
At his weekly Capitol press briefing Thursday, the nation’s most powerful Republican subtly but unmistakably sought to quell his right-wing members who have been pushing to reignite battles over government funding levels and President Obama’s requirement that employer health insurance plans cover contraception without co-pays.
Since the spring, House Republicans have been barreling toward another government shutdown standoff by passing budgets and appropriations bills that violate last fall’s bipartisan debt limit agreement. Boehner signaled a preference for a continuing resolution that keeps the status quo until after the election.
“We’re going to come to an agreement with our colleagues in the Senate to try to make sure that the government’s funded — that there’s no opportunity for games to be played,” he told reporters.
Asked whether the House will act to roll back the administration’s birth control rule, which is set to go into effect next week, Boehner effectively took GOP-introduced legislation to that effect off the table. The battle damaged Republicans politically in the spring.
“We’re continuing to work with those groups around the country who believe that their religious liberties are being infringed to try to come to a resolution of these issues,” he said. “Sometimes resolving these issues can sometimes best be done other than legislative avenues.”
The Republican-dominated House’s power to block must-pass bills has been critical leverage for the more than 80 right-wing members elected in 2010 to carry out their promise of shattering the status quo. Throughout the 112th Congress, they’ve routinely gotten GOP leaders — and, eventually in many cases, Democrats — to cater to their wishes. Now, less than four months from Election Day, Boehner appears to have reached his limit on picking perilous fights that could harm his party’s overarching goal of defeating Obama and taking back the Senate.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.