Speaker John Boehner (left), rules the House Republican Conference without the carrot-and-stick style that many previous House leaders successfully employed. Some in his party feel the lack of consequences for stepping out of line have made the party more difficult to gather on key issues.
Conservatives balked. And moderates — including such staunch Boehner allies such as Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) openly and publicly defied him over various aspects of the measure.
When asked about Boehner's inability to control his Conference, particularly on the transportation bill, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said bluntly, "That's because there's no earmarks" to use as enticements.
West, who has been openly critical of leadership several times since coming to Congress, said he has never felt any pressure from Boehner to fall in line. "No, nobody pressures me," West said.
And for the Florida Republican, that's not a bad thing. "This is a good thing. People can come up here and really represent the interests of their constituents" and not simply toe leadership's line, he argued.
Others, however, see Boehner's hesitance in enforcing discipline on his Members as far more problematic.
Traditionally in leadership, "there's the carrot, and there's the stick. And there's no stick" with Boehner, a veteran Republican lawmaker said Tuesday.
This lawmaker noted that Boehner has not always been shy about throwing his weight around, saying he "elbowed out" now-Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in his ascendancy to Majority Leader and later forced the hand of appropriators when he brought an earmark ban to the floor of the House over their objections.
"That was a ballsy move. ... It's been a long time," the Republican said.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.