But the difficulties of fulfilling promises to voters to cut deficits and roll back government took a toll on party unity. Battling charges that they were extremist and obstructionist, House Republicans lost six seats in November 2012 elections but kept their majority, 235 to 199.
Over time, internal GOP dissent increased, especially as Boehner began private negotiations with Mr. Obama over issues ranging from raising the debt limit in the summer of 2011 to, most recently, averting the fiscal cliff, some $600 billion in tax hikes and automatic spending cuts that were set to take hold Jan 1, 2013.
House Republicans approved of the stand Boehner took early in the 2011 debt-limit talks: that for every dollar of increase in the national debt limit, Congress must find $1 in spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.
But, as word spread about what other concessions Boehner was prepared to make in the closed talks, such as putting “revenue” on the table (a term that could mean tax hikes), Republican opposition mounted. Many conservatives felt Boehner was giving too much away and had not won adequate assurances from the president that promised spending cuts would, in fact, take place.
With the prospect of a first-ever default on the national debt looming, 66 House GOP conservatives refused to vote with Boehner and a mainly unified GOP leadership for the debt-limit deal. The measure passed 269 to 161, with the support of 95 Democrats. But the last-minute debacle damaged the reputation of House Republicans and contributed to the decision of credit rating agencies to downgrade the US's credit rating.