by Richard Thompson, Hillsdale College
“Go f*** yourself.”
Republican Speaker of the House Jim Boehner was tired and frustrated when he addressed Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during an exclusive White House meeting that laid out potential budget control measures. Over the past few weeks, Boehner has received harsh criticism from members of both parties for not being able to effectively manage House delegations. In the midst of the fiscal storm, the Speaker is struggling to stay afloat.
Boehner was all but removed from negotiations after his “Plan B,” which would have raised income taxes on those making more than $1 million, was firmly rejected by both House Democrats and Republicans. He played the role of passive observer as Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell worked on the plan that was passed on Wednesday.
The Speaker also found himself in the crosshairs of party leaders on Tuesday for refusing to hold a vote on the Hurricane Sandy relief package. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) minced no words regarding Boehner’s failure to act and called it “a betrayal.” Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie particularly expressed his outrage that the Speaker would politicize a tragedy that caused countless casualties.
“Our people were played as a pawn last night and that’s why people hate Washington, D.C.,” Christie said.
Speaker Boehner was certainly not spared from Democratic backlash, as Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) questioned the Speaker’s dignity and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called Boehner’s decision “the most disgraceful action I’ve seen in this House.”
Though a Wednesday meeting with Boehner, House Majority Eric Cantor, and other officials provided a potential $60 aid package that will be voted on this month, party officials are aggravated by Boehner’s slowness to act. Democrats and Republicans have not been been able to agree on much in the past but what many can agree on, unfortunately for Boehner, is that the Speaker has been unable to effectively do his job.