Watch as the House Minority Leader and former Speaker deals herself back into a position of power:
Pelosi’s strength stems from Boehner’s weakness: Hobbled by internal GOP divisions, and facing rebellious conservatives who would like to oust him from the speakership, Boehner cannot rally enough votes from his party to approve a spending bill. To pass a bill that would keep government agencies and departments running after Sept. 30, he will almost certainly have to rely on Democratic votes that Pelosi controls.
Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), badly want to avoid another politically damaging shutdown like the 16-day episode two years ago. Government officials say that fight cost taxpayers an extra $24 billion to shut down government programs and then reopen them. Polls show that voters blamed the GOP for the stalemate, hurting the party’s standing with the public.
But conservative Republicans say they will not vote for any spending bill unless Congress blocks federal grant money for Planned Parenthood. They say they are outraged over videos of the organization’s officials discussing the use of tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research. Some of those conservatives also see an opportunity to further weaken Boehner and build the case for removing him.
The issue at hand is defunding Planned Parenthood, which puts the GOP in a tough position — no matter who serves as GOP Speaker.
The public by wide margins wants PP defunded. Also by wide margins, the public doesn’t want to another shutdown. And by wide margins, the public will pin the blame for a shutdown on the GOP.
That puts John Boehner in an uncomfortable position, and Pelosi in the driver’s seat.