From The Washington Post:
GOP May Be Stuck on Cohesion
On the House floor Thursday, Republicans registered their unanimous opposition to President Obama’s budget proposal. Led by Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), the GOP adopted a simple and oft-repeated mantra: The Democrats’ fiscal blueprint “spends too much, borrows too much and taxes too much.”
For House Republicans, relegated to the minority 27 months ago, unity will be key, but Boehner and Cantor have not always spoken with one voice. The questions the GOP confronts as it awaits the heart of Obama’s agenda — on health care, climate change, financial regulatory reform and other big-ticket items — are whether it can offer a cohesive alternative to a popular president, and whether two leaders with very different styles and ambitions can work together to shepherd the party back to power.
During the budget debate, which ended in a near-party-line vote, Cantor and Boehner were in agreement on the strategy — both endorsed the idea that the House GOP had to produce an alternative budget — but differed on tactics. Recently, both men stood with their fellow leaders at a news conference to unveil a budget “blueprint,” which was widely panned in the media for its lack of details and specific numbers.
Privately, Cantor and the lawmaker tasked with writing the GOP budget, Rep. Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), had urged the party to hold off going public until it could produce a finished product. […] Boehner and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) disagreed, hoping to counter as quickly as possible Democrats’ charge that Republicans are “the Party of No.” The result was a botched rollout and bad press.
The men also split on the proposal last month to tax the bonuses of American International Group employees, with Cantor voting for the bill and Boehner voting no. That measure divided House Republicans as well, as did the financial bailout votes last fall.
But Republicans who know both men well insist that their differences are not hampering the party’s overall efforts.
“We’re in the minority right now, and I don’t think it’s a problem that we have disagreements,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said. “We’re not making law.”
Friction between House leaders is commonplace. Cantor’s predecessor as whip, Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.), had an uneasy relationship with Boehner. Before that, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) got along, but Hastert constantly battled the perception that DeLay was the real power behind the throne.
Boehner has made clear that he views Cantor as the face of the next generation of GOP leaders, and Cantor has given no indication that he plans to gun for Boehner’s job.
Even in fundraising, the two leaders have different strengths. Boehner has a network of relationships on K Street. Cantor, meanwhile, “has an East Coast connection, a Florida connection and a California connection that is very appealing,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.), who heads the House GOP’s campaign committee.
On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave a preview of what the House’s agenda will look like after Congress returns from a two-week spring recess. The schedule will be heavy on legislation dealing with the financial crisis, including bills on predatory lending, credit card reform and other populist measures with the potential to split Republicans the way some other economic measures have.
If the GOP cannot maintain a united front on those issues, taking back the majority in 2010 or 2012 will be an even greater challenge, and members may want change at the top, either elevating Cantor to replace Boehner or getting rid of both of them.
From The Caucus at The New York Times (April 2, 2009):
[…] here’s the roll call breakdown of the House vote 233-196 on the $3.6 trillion budget resolution just passed in that chamber. The Senate is still voting on amendments, and its members are likely to go on into the late evening hours.
Not one Republican voted in favor of the budget. Twenty Democrats voted against it.
Way to go G.O.P. Housecritters! Line up in lockstep behind Boohoo and Cantor! And while you’re at it, replace the elephant with a more descriptive symbol–the lemming. Just look at how swell it will look!
Of course, that’s assuming you’re no longer using these: