Speaker John Boehner hopes Tuesday is the beginning of a new reality on Capitol Hill.
For years, Boehner has had to stroke the egos of his House Republican Conference’s far-right fringe, the hard-line conservatives who had an outsize voice in every legislative debate and often dragged the entire party with them, even when he implored them to ease up.
Now, though, the Ohio Republican and his allies are confident he will win his third term as speaker on Tuesday without the dozen or so “Hell no!” conservatives who have seemingly stymied him at every turn. He will lose the support of between 12 to 20 Republicans during the floor vote for speaker, they concede, and the defections will blemish Boehner’s brand as the leader of a party that’s under pressure to show it can govern now that it controls both sides of the Capitol.
Yet the GOP leadership thinks that Boehner’s almost-certain victory, plus the biggest House Republican majority in decades, gives him the legislative latitude he’s desperately sought since 2010.
No more shutdowns, no more mindless face-offs with President Barack Obama and the Democrats, they hope. Boehner and House Republicans will be able to push a conservative agenda, but they will pick their fights more carefully, choosing battles they can win on issues for which they have the upper hand over the White House.
Top Republicans blare that they’re plainly sick of the chaos of the past few years, when Boehner was under pressure to deliver to hard-liners in order to keep his job.