House leaders typically don’t bring bills to the floor and then lose. But Mr. Boehner has defined his speakership around the principle of allowing votes to “let the House work its will” – a stance that has helped manage the aspirations of a robust freshmen class, many elected with strong tea party support.
“No leader wants to go into a vote knowing he’s going to lose, unless he wants to make a point, which in fact may be what’s happening,” says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“I said at the Rules Committee meeting that I was prepared to go along, but that was before there was a real uprising in our caucus,” Congressman Dicks said after the vote.
With a new fiscal year set to begin on Oct. 1, the failed vote sets up yet another scramble to avoid a government shutdown. Congress’s agenda has been driven by fiscal crises ever since Republicans took back control of the House in January 2011. Lawmakers took a tough vote in April to fund government for the balance of the 2011 fiscal year, then, in August, a tougher vote to raise the national debt limit to nearly $17 trillion.