Boehner Takes Strong Hand With House GOP After Payroll Tax Meltdown

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In a conference call with House Republicans early Thursday evening, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) took no questions after making it clear to his members that the game was up and they would have to swallow the Democratic payroll tax extension.

Boehner laid out the agreement he forged to temporarily renew the payroll tax holiday — one his members will hate — and said the goal is to pass the new bill by unanimous consent on Friday morning. That means if even a single recalcitrant Republican objects to his plan, the chaos will drag on for several days.

At a press conference with reporters just after the call, Boehner admitted he has no assurances that the unanimous consent request will fly — but in a sign that he’s finally laying down the law with his unruly members, he vowed to force them to take an up-or-down vote on the issue next week if they cause any trouble.

Asked if all his members would muffle their grievances and allow the bill to move ahead, Boehner admitted, “I don’t know that but our goal is to do this by unanimous consent.”“It may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world,” Boehner said, humbly, of the fight, “but let me tell you what. I think our members waged a good fight.”

“I’ve talked to enough members over the last 24 hours who believe that, ‘Hey, we don’t like this two month extension [but] if you can get this fixed, why not do the right thing for the American people, even though it’s not exactly what we want.”

And if any members object, will he bring the House back into session next week and force an up or down vote on it?

“Absolutely,” Boehner said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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