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The Hill
Boehner tightens grip on rank and file to maximize power in 'fiscal cliff' talks
By Molly K. Hooper

Speaker John Boehner is tightening his grip on the House Republican Conference weeks before an anticipated vote on a deficit deal.

The Ohio Republican has smoothed over differences with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), expanded his powers on the panel that doles out plum committee assignments, shot down a challenge to his earmark moratorium and worked behind the scenes to ensure that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) would win her leadership contest.

All of Boehner’s moves are aimed at shoring up his influence over the GOP conference, which in turn maximizes the Speaker’s leverage with President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Boehner can’t afford to waste any of that leverage, which took a major hit in the elections that delivered Obama a second term and increased the number of Democrats in both the House and Senate.
Any bipartisan agreement on taxes and spending reached by the White House and Boehner will test GOP unity — a test House Republicans largely failed over the last two years.

Democrats seized on chaos in the House GOP ranks to divide and conquer Republicans at the negotiating table during the payroll tax extension debate earlier this year.

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