WASHINGTON – The allegation of a conservative turning on his own and becoming an enforcer for Republican leadership came to light as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrived at a dilemma.
If he sides with House conservatives and defunds Planned Parenthood in the upcoming budget bill, he will almost certainly face a government shutdown, a prospect that terrifies GOP leadership.
If he doesn’t try to defund the abortion provider, that will likely trigger a brewing revolt by conservatives seeking to dethrone Boehner as speaker. And, if Democrats play along, they may have the votes.
If Boehner isn’t feeling the heat, at least publicly, his friends certainly appear to be, after an ally went on a spectacular tirade that included calling conservatives communists.
The Hill reported that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., used some rather colorful language to charge conservatives were siding with House Leader Nancy Pelosi against Boehner.
“The right-wing Marxists have teamed up with Pelosi. They’re the ones who always team up with Pelosi. They are the Pelosi Republicans,” said Nunes.
A conservative House GOP aide portrayed that as a case of the pot calling the kettle black, telling WND, “Mr. Nunes is conveniently rewriting history. It was House Republican leadership that worked with Pelosi’s caucus rather than House conservatives to pass Trade Promotion Authority.”
But, still, why would Nunes, considered a conservative himself, so scathingly attack fellow conservatives, as well as repeatedly defend Boehner?
The answer, according to a source with intimate knowledge of Capitol Hill behind the scenes, is that Nunes has made a deal and become “Boehner’s political assassin.”
The source called Nunes “a great guy and a conservative by philosophy” but said he had made a pact with Boehner.
“In exchange for status as a Boehner insider,” the source told WND, “Devin gives John Boehner a lot of NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) campaign money. Probably a million or more per cycle, because Devin has an easy district and easily gets reelected, so, instead of spending the money on himself, he gives it to Boehner.”
“Devin’s assignment is to go to the press and savage conservatives or conservative strategy, saying what Boehner would say but without attribution to Boehner.”
In exchange, the source said, Nunes was given “a plum committee chairmanship.”
“Boehner needs someone to publicly hatchet the tea-party congressmen because they are a political threat to John,” explained the source.
“John can’t afford politically to have those words come from his mouth, so he has loyal lieutenants leak a message to which ever media outlet Boehner wants his message delivered to.”
Multiple Capitol Hill sources confirmed the Boehner-Nunes pact to WND, but one source emphasized that all House committee chairs are required to raise certain amounts of money for the NRCC, and that it is common knowledge. That source said it was still clear that Nunes was doing Boehner’s bidding.
Pombo, who called himself more sympathetic to the tea-party wing of the GOP than the Republican establishment, called speculation of such a pact between Nunes and Boehner a “fantasy.”
WND attempted to contact Boehner and Nunes for a response to the allegation of a pact but was not successful.
Nunes has an association with WND as the author of “Restoring the Republic,” published by WND Books in 2010.
The incident on Tuesday was not the first time Nunes has come to Boehner’s defense.
In February, he called House Republicans who defied Boehner and pressed for defunding Obama’s executive amnesty “phony conservatives.”
Nunes said, “I prefer to be in the arena voting than trying to placate a small group of phony conservative members who have no credible policy proposals and no political strategy to stop Obama’s lawlessness.”
When conservative Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., filed a surprise motion in July to remove Boehner as speaker, a motion that still looms over his head, Nunes belittled it as a fundraising tool and a publicity stunt.
“You don’t raise any money, you need a way to raise money, you do gimmicks like this,” said Nunes.
And, Tuesday was actually not the first time Nunes has called conservatives communists for trying to stop Obama.
Referring to conservative efforts to defund Obamcare and the president’s executive amnesty, as well as Planned Parenthood, Nunes told the Associated Press last month, “They’re kind of like their own party,” and, “You can’t really do anything about it because they’re right-wing Marxists. It’s unpredictable what they’re going to do.”
If establishment Republicans seem on edge, conservatives are playing it cool while waiting to see what kind of budget Boehner proposes.
WND asked a half-dozen conservative House members for reactions to Nunes calling conservatives Marxists, but most preferred not to go on the record, apparently biding their time and waiting for Boehner to make his move on the budget.
An exception was Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., a former economics professor who came into office in a stunning upset of a key GOP leader, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Brat is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative House members who have been frustrated with Boehner’s perceived reluctance to effectively fight the president and to use the House’s power of the purse to defund Obama’s activities they find objectionable.
That frustration now may be coming to a head over the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, the abortion provider accused of selling baby parts for profit after the release of a series of undercover videos.
Referring solely to the comments made by Nunes on Tuesday, not the allegation of a pact, Brat told WND, “In the first place, we are supposed to be on the same team, and team members should respect votes of conscious and votes that represent their constituencies.
“Secondly, the congressman has his facts upside-down. Marx was for big government, and I am for smaller government. I am not the one pushing to bust the budget caps, increase the debt ceiling, and push the next generation into a fiscal ditch.
“Finally, on the ethics, one should not be name-calling a member of their own team, especially when the pope is in town.
“As a professor of economics and ethics, I urge my colleague to hit the books a bit harder.”
No longer a direct party to the fray, and also speaking only about the recent Nunes comments, not the alleged pact, former Rep. Steve Stockman had no reservations, telling WND, “My fellow conservatives on Capitol Hill tell me the number of lawmakers who oppose John keeps growing, especially over Planned Parenthood funding. His weak allies will start looking for the exit doors.”
Stockman also pointed out the irony of accusing conservatives of siding with Pelosi, because, “Boehner will need Nancy to keep his seat.”
“John’s supporters are saying conservatives are tied to Nancy? Now that’s hilarious. The clock is ticking. And when it strikes midnight, boom – he’s going out.”
Meanwhile, Boehner is left pondering what may be the biggest decision of his career.
Political analysts have said the prospect of a shutdown terrifies GOP leaders because they are convinced they will lose the war of public opinion played out in a liberally biased mainstream media, even if it would be President Obama shutting down the government by refusing to sign a budget bill defunding Planned Parenthood.
Establishment Republicans especially fear a shutdown in the middle of the 2016 presidential election campaign, but conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, point out that after the shutdown following the attempt to defund Obamacare in 2013, the GOP went on to a landslide victory in the 2014 midterm elections.
But if Boehner does not propose to defund Planned Parenthood in the budget need by Sept. 30 to keep the government running, that could spark an all-out conservative revolt. Although full-fledged conservatives are a minority among House Republicans, if Democrats were to join their coup, it wouldn’t take many additional votes to depose the speaker.
In fact, that prospect is considered so plausible, it is cited by some conservatives as the reason Boehner has not brought Meadows’ motion to oust him to the floor for a quick vote, in order to quash the revolt.
Pombo expressed sympathy for Boehner on that score, telling WND, “If what you are doing relies on Democratic votes, something’s wrong.”
Boehner may have already revealed his budget strategy, telling a group of dismayed conservative pastors in Ohio last week there would be no shutdown.
He told them he agreed with their goal of stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding but disagreed with the tactic of defunding it in a budget, because it would provoke a shutdown.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.
Boehner has been persuaded before to side with conservatives on crucial issues.
Under his stewardship, the House passed a bill defunding Obamacare in September 2013. When the then-Democrat controlled Senate failed to pass the budget, the 16-day government shutdown ensued. That ended only when GOP leaders gave in to pressure to pass a budget not defunding Obamacare.
Conservatives also persuaded Boehner to drop his own bill and pass a strong anti-amnesty border security measure after voters “melted” the phone lines on Capitol Hill in July 2014. That bill also died in the then-Democrat controlled Senate.
Meanwhile, it appears Democrats and the White House are virtually salivating over the prospect over another shutdown.
A fundraising letter emailed from BarackObama.com warns supporters of an impending shutdown because of Congress’ “extreme political priorities – like defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting women’s reproductive rights.”
The letter continues, “Let’s be clear: These votes aren’t going to accomplish anything, other than showcase their backwards views on women’s health.”
The email ends with a pitch for donations to the left-wing group “Organizing for Action,” which originated as an Obama campaign organization.
And, on Wednesday, the Obama administration began warning of an impending crisis, with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest telling reporters preparations for a possible federal government shutdown had begun.
Shifting all responsibility away from the president if he refuses to sign a budget that includes the defunding of Planned Parenthood, Earnest said, “The final decision rests with Democrats and Republicans in Congress.”
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