Politics

The coming showdown between Boehner and Obama on Obamacare, NPR and EPA policy riders

Chris Moody Contributor
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The large conservative defection on the vote for a three-week continuing resolution Tuesday is cementing a demand by House Republicans for a series of key policy riders in their FY2011 spending bill, H.R. 1 — even as top Democrats say they have a zero-riders policy.

A key motivation of the 54 Republican defectors was that the short-term CR did not include the policy riders that are in H.R. 1. The riders defund Obamacare, a series of EPA regulations, National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood, among other things.

“I think the 54 are entrenched,” Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey told The Daily Caller, “I think it’s the other side coming to join the 54.” Gingrey voted no on the three-week CR.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York — between taunting House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican — has said the Senate will block a bill with any policy riders.

The impasses set up a showdown between Boehner and President Obama with high noon coming at the end of the just-passed three-week CR, since another short-term bill is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House. The Senate passed the House bill Thursday, which keeps the government funded until April 8.

“The House has passed a long-term funding bill — H.R. 1 — which cuts spending and includes a host of policy restrictions. That bill is our position. At this point, the Democrats who run Washington don’t have a position, other than the status quo. And the American people don’t like status quo politicians,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

The other issue, of course, is the amount of the spending cuts. “We wanted $100 billion,” he said. “That’s what we were promised and that’s what we should hold out for and I think that we’ve got the leverage to do that,” said Gingrey.

Meanwhile, debate between Republicans over the decision by the 54 conservatives to vote no continued to reverberate.

A Republican Study Committee (RSC) members-only meeting midday Wednesday “got ugly” according to one congressional source as the “yes” and “no” votes fiercely debated the issue.

Those who followed Boehner and GOP leadership in voting “yes” appeared to settle on a key gripe: they don’t want conservative litmus tests on questions of strategy.

Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who voted for the extension to buy more time for negotiations, said he was “frustrated” and sick of being called a “RINO” — a “Republican in name only” — over what he sees as a mere tactical vote on the road toward the same end.

“I’m frustrated with people that in order to stoke up passions with some of the folks, try to make us look like we’re RINOs or something and we’re not,” Kinzinger told TheDC after Wednesday’s meeting. “I get frustrated when you have organizations that get involved in key scoring something over a tactical decision versus a real policy decision.”

“We’re here, working our tail off, we’re cutting $2 billion a week and what I’ve seen in some cases is, you know, there’s a difference in tactics, but we all want the same goal,” he added.

Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation which played a key role in encouraging the right flank of the caucus to vote no, published a blog post Wednesday further explaining its rationale in terms of the ongoing negotiations between Boehner and President Obama.

Conservatives say policy, not just strategy, was at stake in their stance because at issue are the policy riders and implications for the final deal.

A quote that appeared in TheDC from a GOP House aide also stirred things up Wednesday. The aide unloaded on conservatives, subjecting Indiana Rep. Mike Pence to particular scorn.

“These people aren’t thinking clearly. Their logic doesn’t pan out. They have NO plan. What concessions were they going to get if it failed? They were going to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood?” the source said

Radio host Mark Levin, among others, blasted the aide’s remarks.

Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.

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