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House Rejects Senate Bill, Asks for Conference on Payroll

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

When asked again by Roll Call today about the topic, Boehner refused to answer the question. But that has not stopped his Members from discussing the situation among themselves and pushing their leader to explain what, exactly, happened.

“That was discussed in the Conference last night. People didn’t quite understand how, when the Speaker left the meeting with Sen. McConnell and Sen. Reid, this abomination was what was sent back to us,” said Steven LaTourette (Ohio), one of Boehner’s closest allies in the House.

According to LaTourette, Boehner seemed “befuddled. ... The question was asked directly of him. That question was asked, ‘What’s the disconnect between you and Sen. McConnell?’ And he said he doesn’t know.”

When asked about McConnell’s now infamous high-five with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) celebrating the deal, LaTourette quipped, “It should have been a low-five.”

Indeed, many House Republicans continued to criticize their Senate brethren and were particularly harsh when it came to McConnell, who many insisted knew his deal with Reid would not pass the House.

“Mr. McConnell knew the position of our leadership was [we] wanted to do a year-long. I don’t know what happened,” said Rep. Tom Latham (Iowa), Boehner’s closest friend and confidant on Capitol Hill.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the Senate was thinking,” Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said today. West called the McConnell-Reid deal “crap.”

“I’m critical of the Senate for sending us something for two months. That’s horrible policy,” he added.

While a growing number of rank-and-file Senate Republicans have defended McConnell and attacked the decision by House Republicans to not accept the deal, McConnell and his staff have remained markedly silent. McConnell’s chief spokesman Don Stewart — who has regularly used Twitter and email to throw jabs at the White House and Democrats for months — has maintained strict radio silence since Saturday’s vote, and his office has rebuffed numerous requests for comment.

The notion that McConnell, one of the most cautious and deliberate leaders of the modern era, would move forward with a deal without Boehner’s blessing has raised skeptical eyebrows among Republicans and Democrats alike.

“I don’t believe it,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said today. “It’s on its face implausible that the leader of the Senate Republicans and the Speaker of the House, a Republican, would not be on the same page. It’s pretty clear what happened here, and that is that the agreement fell apart when the Speaker tried to sell it to the Republican conference.”

Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.

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