UPDATED: House Speaker John Boehner is cracking the whip.
“Get your ass in line,” Boehner demanded at a closed-door meeting of the entire House Republican conference this morning. “I can’t do this job unless you are behind me.”
According to Republicans at the meeting, Boehner made an impassioned plea for his debt ceiling plan is the very best that Republicans could hope to achieve even as he acknowledged that it falls short of spending cuts that most of them want.
Boehner’s “ass in line” speech seemed to have an impact. Republicans emerged from the meeting appearing to be more unified.
At least a few of them who went into the meeting opposed to Boehner’s plan came out saying they would support it. Archconservative presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., said he too was on board with the proposal — a decision he said he made a day earlier.
One freshman Republican, Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, who had expressed concern over the plan, said he is starting to come around in support of the bill now that he has realized “you can’t get everything in one fell swoop.”
“I’ve moved from ‘lean no,’ to undecided to ‘lean yes.’” Farenthold said. “It’s just a matter of we gotta take what we can get from a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate.”
“You gotta claim a win when you can claim a win. A football game is a great example. Cut, Cap, and Balance was a touchdown hail marry pass. Let’s take what we can get. Take the five yards to get the first down and fight the next battle,” he added. “I’ve shifted to leaning yes from leaning no…You don’t let the perfect get in the way of the doable.”
Another previously undecided freshman Republican, Michael Grimm of New York, said he has decided to support the plan because “it’s a lot better than what we would have if we just let the Senate Democrats and this president continue on their spending spree.”
“I’ll be voting yes,” Grimm said. “I’ll be supporting the speaker and his team, and after looking at everything there’s only two options: Do we want to give the president of the United States a blank check when we know that he cannot stop his spending spree, or do we want to do something – whatever we can do – to slow this rate of spending down and to get some cuts. At the end of the day, it’s nowhere near what I want. It’s not even close to the numbers we wanted. It’s not perfect, but when you only control one-half of one-third of this government, you can’t expect to be perfect.
Today’s meeting follows a similar one yesterday where Republican Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) played a clip from the movie “The Town” where Ben Affleck rallies his friend by saying, “We’re going to hurt people” and the friend asks, “Whose car are we going to take?” In the movie’s next scene the two go out in hockey masks and beat a man before shooting him with a gun in his leg.
The speaker’s office says aides continue to rework the plan in order to abide by the GOP’s pledge to cut spending at least as much as the amount the debt limit is increased. A vote was expected Wednesday, but pushed back to Thursday after the Congressional Budget Office scored the Boehner plan about $450 billion lower than expected.
Asked whether he believes a reconfigured measure will pass, Rep. Allen West, a freshman from Florida said, “I’d almost put my retirement check on it.”
“From what I saw in there, there’s been a pretty good change of heart,” West said. “I think that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama are going to be kind of surprised tomorrow night.”
If his prediction is realized, West called on Senate Democrats “to do the right thing by the American people and pass this plan.”
Despite Boehner's pep talk and the unconventional movie scene prodding, some Republicans say they are undecided how they intend to vote tomorrow but are leaning against it, including freshmen Reps. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Bill Huizenga of Michigan.
“We’re still looking at the options, and I know we’re reworking a few things, to see where the Speaker is, so [I’m] very open and looking to find a solution,” Huizenga, R-Michigan, said. “There is one out there, we just haven’t fully stumbled upon it yet.”
This entry has been updated since originally posting.