The week was supposed to end on a high note. Boehner had broken with past practice and allowed lawmakers of both parties to participate in a free-flowing legislative process. The result had been GOP-sponsored cuts of $60 billion, in partial fulfillment of one of their campaign promises. That message was clouded, however, with renewed talk of a government shutdown. That emboldened Democrats—and it emboldened Republican freshmen in the House, who are anxious to take every measure necessary to keep shrinking the size of government.
But Boehner and GOP leaders don't want to shut down the government and thus risk seeming reckless. (Unlike the governor of Wisconsin, they don't have majorities throughout the government, which makes brinksmanship easier.) To cool down the troops, GOP leaders held a meeting late last week with most of the 87 freshmen members. "We are not about shutting down the government," said Majority Leader Eric Cantor. That's a message they want heard inside the room and out.