John Boehner

By Paul Kane
Thursday, October 17, 2013

House Speaker John A. Boehner lost the shutdown showdown in ignominious fashion, winning not a single concession of any value from Democrats and exposing his majority as powerless to advance conservative causes.

The one thing the Ohio Republican did seem to manage to do was hold onto his job. The always embattled speaker let his recalcitrant conservatives effectively run the show for the past month, and even as they lost badly, he won grudging respect from some who sought to take his gavel away earlier this year.

The speaker let conservatives run House strategy, and they got nothing in return.

“We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” Boehner told a Cincinnati radio host in his only public comments Wednesday.

The outcome left the speaker without any clear plan for governing or for unifying a wickedly fractured GOP caucus that has repeatedly divided when it needed to unite. The only slice of hope any Republican could muster Wednesday was that GOP lawmakers may have finally learned a lesson about banding together rather than undercutting their leaders.

Yet when the final roll call fell Wednesday night, after Boehner and a unified GOP leadership team all said they would support the Senate-passed legislation to open the government and avoid default, just 87 out of 231 Republicans who voted followed their speaker’s play call.

What the House GOP now faces is a series of contentious fiscal fights over the next four months along the same lines as the budget and debt-limit battles.

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