July 28, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

A Good Week to Be Aligned With Boehner as Speaker Flexes Muscle

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Boehner is consolidating his power ahead of what will likely be a contentious legislative session during which every vote will be crucial to getting Republicans the best possible deal from President Barack Obama and the resurgent congressional Democrats.

Speaker John A. Boehner has long insisted that the House Republican Conference be allowed to work its will. Now, the Ohio Republican is doing everything he can to ensure his will holds more credence in the 113th Congress.

Boehner is consolidating his power ahead of what will likely be a contentious legislative session during which every vote will be crucial to getting Republicans the best possible deal from President Barack Obama and the resurgent congressional Democrats.

Like an old mob movie, those who have crossed the speaker are mysteriously disappearing left and right, while those who have pledged fealty to him are being rewarded with plum positions and important titles.

Case in point, Boehner tightened the screws Thursday on the Republican Steering Committee, the influential and secretive panel of leaders, committee chairmen and regional representatives who make decisions about committee assignments and chairmanships.

And in leadership elections, his preferred candidates won out this week, ensuring a more unified team when it comes to internal leadership deliberations and influencing the rest of the conference to support tough legislation.

“Absolutely,” one leadership aide said, suggesting that Boehner is taking control because “it gives him more leverage” when dealing with Democrats. “It frankly only strengthens the hand of House Republicans in general when he’s dealing with the president,” the aide added.

Boehner had allowed the incoming class of 2010 to have an unprecedented three seats on the steering committee, an olive branch designed to foster goodwill with the group that made up about one-third of the entire caucus.

Not so next year. According to documents obtained by Roll Call, the steering committee will now have just one representative from the class of 2010. Moreover, Boehner will be able to cast five votes on the panel, up from the four he had in the 112th Congress.

Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada, who will be the class of 2010 representative to the steering committee in the 113th Congress, fought the move. He argued that with more than 70 members in the class next year, they deserve at least two steering committee slots.

But the freshman class has been unruly at times, with many members voting against Boehner’s key priorities, including a 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling. The move gives Boehner more centralized power over which members get plum committee assignments and which are relegated to grunt work.

The speaker’s office declined to comment.

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