Boehner 'feeling better' about GOP retaining majority in the House

Boehner 'feeling better' about GOP retaining majority in the House

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) said Thursday he is “feeling better” about Republicans’ chances of holding the House than he did in April, when he said the party faced a “one in three" likelihood of losing the majority.

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“Our team’s in pretty good shape,” BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE said as he briefed reporters in the Capitol for the final time before Congress departs for a five-week recess. “Our members have worked hard. Frankly, our candidates and challengers out there — a lot of them have been through tough primaries. And I feel good about where we are as a team. We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and November, but our team is doing well.”

Boehner’s comments in the spring warning about the possibility of losing the House were seen as an intended wake-up call to Republicans in advance of the election season. Most political analysts now believe the chances that Democrats will win back the House in November are slim. They need a net gain of 25 seats, but most projections show them gaining only in the single digits.

But Democrats also expressed optimism Thursday, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee saying they felt confident their incumbents running for re-election would prevail, leaving the party to play offense on the GOP majority.

"The Republicans’ claim that they can keep control of the House rests on defeating 10 to 15 Democratic incumbents," said the DCCC in a memo circulated to reporters. "House Republicans are dreaming if they think they can defeat Democratic incumbents this November."

On a conference call with reporters Thursday, DCCC Executive Director Robby Mook said Democratic incumbents were "battle tested" while Republican challengers and first-term incumbents "have been duds or have too much baggage to pick up and go anywhere."

"If they could not be defeated in a Republican high point of 2012, they're just not going to be defeated in 2012," Mook said.

The GOP House majority that took power in 2011 has faced criticism for a lack of substantive accomplishments. Most of their bills have stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and the spending cuts they’ve achieved pale in comparison to those they campaigned on.

Boehner, however, gave his members a vote of confidence heading into a key campaign period.

“As we head into the district work period, I want to say how proud I am of our members and the work that they’ve accomplished,” he said at the outset of his briefing. “This is still a Democrat-run town, and there’s a lot more progress that needs to be made. But our members have made a real difference in changing the direction of the country. They’ve been relentlessly focused on creating jobs and fixing our economy.”

Democrats, he said, had failed to come up with a plan for addressing the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year, while House Republicans have passed legislation to replace scheduled defense cuts and stave off looming tax hikes.

“I think the American people, mark my words, are paying attention, and I think they’ll remember,” Boehner said.

Justin Sink contributed to this story.