House Speaker John Boehner's "legs were clearly cut out from under him" by his own caucus in negotiations to reach a debt-ceiling agreement, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.
In response to a question Tuesday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" about whether Boehner (R-Ohio) was pressured by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to abandon a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan — a so-called "grand bargain — Van Hollen said that Boehner was obviously pressured by his fellow Republicans to step away from such a deal.
"I don't want to get the Speaker in trouble, but clearly, he was willing to make some tough decisions, some compromises, which is what's going to be necessary in order to really get the deficit and debt under control and get the economy moving again. He clearly had his legs cut out from under him by members of his own caucus," Van Hollen said.
"We're going to have to leave those politics to their caucus, but it is a huge missed opportunity. I hope they will reconsider. The president's made clear that he's willing to meet them more than halfway," Van Hollen continued.
Van Hollen did not mention Cantor by name, which made his comments very similar to some made by President Obama during a press conference Monday, when he said Boehner is "a good man who wants to do right by the country" and who has been "trying to do something big" on reducing the deficit. In those remarks, Obama did not mention Cantor directly. The implication appeared to be that while Boehner was open to a grand bargain, he has been receiving pressure from Republicans to instead push for a smaller measure.
At a White House meeting on Thursday, Cantor reportedly disagreed with some of the terms of the larger deficit-reduction plan Boehner had been secretly working out with Obama. Cantor argued that the $4 trillion deal was too heavy with tax increases. Forty-eight hours later, Boehner no longer supported the grand bargain. While there has been speculation that it was pressure from Cantor in particular that caused Boehner to walk away from the larger deal, Cantor has denied that any rift between him and the Speaker exists.