WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress' debt-and-spending breakthrough crystalized a political contradiction.
House Republicans refuse to let Speaker John Boehner steer them toward big policy decisions, leaving him to endure repeated public embarrassments.
Yet they rally around Boehner as much as ever. On Wednesday they affirmed his hold on the speakership even as they choked down a Democratic-crafted bill to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling. It gave Republicans only a few small concessions.
Republicans rejected Boehner's earlier advice to focus on the debt ceiling rather than government funding of health care.
Tea party Republicans' disdain of compromise has vastly complicated the speaker's job. Even before Wednesday, House Republicans' habit of praising but not heeding Boehner reflected the tea party's devotion to principle above deal-making.
Many lawmakers fear a return to brinksmanship soon.