“I think Steny’s hand is very much strengthened by this process and he should be brought into the negotiations in the future,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a leader of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition.
The California Democrat said the continuing resolution vote highlighted the challenge Boehner will have going forward, managing the divide between business and tea party Republicans. Cardoza said that to pick up Democratic support Boehner runs the risk of imperiling his standing with conservatives.
“There are a lot of us who want to work with him and want to do the right thing for our country,” Cardoza said. “The question is whether the right wing of his caucus will allow him to do that.”
But House Republicans who are already starting to draw a line in the sand over what must be included in a final package will make compromise hard.
Freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said it was important for spending control measures, particularly a balanced budget amendment, be attached to the debt ceiling vote.
Despite the growing list of demands, several GOP lawmakers, even those who broke ranks on the CR vote, defended Boehner and said he would be able to get Republicans to stick together on the debt limit increase by extracting significant cuts.
“I think you will see our conference pretty strong on the debt limit,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, who voted against the measure. “I think everyone in our conference understands that if you are going to increase the bond authority of the country, you need to get some more spending cuts and some real reform.”
The Ohioan said he was “hopeful we’re all on the same page on that one.”
And although he was among the Republican defectors on the continuing resolution, Rep. Patrick McHenry (N.C.) cautioned that Democrats “shouldn’t read too much into this vote as some predictor of future results.”
While McHenry said the conference remained strongly behind Boehner and that there was broad understanding of the challenges the Speaker faces in terms of negotiating with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats, he said Boehner should take a different approach to the debt limit increase.
“Members ought to be brought into the process earlier for this next round, I think that will be important,” he said.
Freshman Rep. Steve Southerland, who also opposed the continuing resolution but voted for the Ryan budget, said he still has faith in Boehner’s conservative credentials even though the Speaker was not able to negotiate cuts as deep as he would have wanted on the stopgap funding bill.
“I have not known him long, but I believe him to be a conservative,” the Florida Republican said. “When conservative resolutions are brought before us, I think he will have broad support. … I have not lost trust in our leadership at all. But let me say this: Trust is not based on unwavering support at all times.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.