Tea Party Texan blames 'failure to communicate' for payroll tax debacle

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, blamed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the fiasco over the payroll tax extension.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate,” Gohmert said Monday on Fox News. 

House Republicans initially balked on passing a two-month extension after it passed the Senate with overwhelming support, but eventually relented to political pressures and passed the short-term option.

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“If the message had been properly communicated to the Senate that we were not going to go along with a two-month extension, then the Senate would not have voted 89 votes for that extension,” Gohmert said.

The Senate passed its bill with bipartisan support after failing to find consensus on how to pay for a yearlong extension.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seemed to have an understanding with Boehner that the bill would pass the House, which likely contributed to the overwhelming Republican support for the bill in the Senate.

Gohmert didn’t use Boehner’s name on Monday, but the Speaker represented House Republicans as a conduit between the two chambers.

The Senate "had the word that, according to them, that they’d been told we’ll go along with a two-month extension,” Gohmert said.

House Republicans, led by freshman conservatives who were voted into office on the strength of the Tea Party movement, revolted against the Senate-passed bill, saying the negotiation over a full-year tax cut should happen now rather than after the holiday recess.

The conservative establishment, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), The Wall Street Journal editorial board and former Bush adviser Karl Rove, turned strongly against House Republicans and said they were botching the politics by picking the wrong fight.

On Thursday, McConnell dropped a lifeline to Boehner, saying publicly that the House should pass the bill if Democrats agreed to name conferees to negotiate the full-year extension early next year.

The bill passed the House on Friday morning by unanimous consent.

Some have speculated that the payroll tax debate has irreparably harmed Boehner’s Speakership, and that he has lost control of his conference to a Tea Party faction.

Last week, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), another Tea Party-backed freshman, did not dispute that notion in an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto.

He paused for a few seconds before answering Cavuto’s question as to whether Boehner should maintain his Speakership.

“We didn’t have a comment section to our conference call,” Gowdy said, referring to a Thursday conference call in which Boehner informed Republicans they should concede to the Senate-passed bill. “We typically do, where we can ask questions and register complaints. That wasn’t an option this afternoon. It probably means we’d still be on the phone call, if he’d opened it up to questions.”