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Tom Price won’t challenge Boehner

A senior House Republican said Monday he is not mounting a challenge to Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE (R-Ohio), momentarily keeping a lid on simmering tensions between conservatives and the party leadership.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a conservative stalwart who recently lost his bid for a leadership post, shot down a report that floated him as a lawmaker who could seek to oust BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE if the Speaker cuts a fiscal-cliff deal with President Obama that breaks with conservative principles.

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“Congressman Price is not running for Speaker,” spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael said in a statement Monday. “He is focused on real solutions to get America back on track. Those solutions reside in fundamental principles that embrace individual opportunity and economic freedom.”

In an article posted Monday, Price told National Review that conservatives “don’t have a proper platform” in the party leadership and declined to rule out either a bid for Speaker or a primary challenge to Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.), who is up for reelection in 2014.

First elected in 2004, Price is a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee and has headed the Republican Policy Committee for the past two years. Last month, he lost to Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersOvernight Health Care: GOP chair blasts DEA over opioid enforcement | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Patient groups oppose 'right to try' drug bill Overnight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA 'right to try' bill House passes bill to ease menu labeling rules under ObamaCare MORE (R-Wash.) in his bid for the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership post, despite having the support of Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (Wis.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), the outgoing conference chairman.

House Republicans re-nominated Boehner for Speaker by acclimation in an internal conference meeting after the November election, but the official public vote will occur on the House floor in early January.

The rumblings about Price come as Boehner has drawn the ire of some conservatives for removing from key committee posts four Republican lawmakers who have voted against and criticized the leadership.

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The three freshman lawmakers in the group — Reps. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), David SchweikertDavid SchweikertFive obstacles to Trump's infrastructure ambitions The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill GOP Senate hopeful Kelli Ward leads challengers in internal poll MORE (Ariz.) and Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: House votes to renew surveillance program | More drones, troops headed to Afghanistan | Former officers urge lawmakers to curb Trump's nuclear powers Overnight Tech: House votes to reauthorize surveillance powers | Twitter on defensive after Project Veritas video | Senate panel to hold hearing on bitcoin Overnight Cybersecurity: House votes to renew NSA spying | Trump tweets spark confusion | Signs Russian hackers are targeting Olympics | Bannon expected to appear before House Intel panel MORE (Mich.) — wrote to Boehner on Friday seeking a “full and complete written explanation” of the rationale for removing them from their committee assignments. They asked for Boehner to respond by the close of business on Monday.

As of mid-afternoon on Monday, aides to two of the lawmakers said they had not heard from the Speaker. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel later said the Speaker had responded, but he would not provide the reply.

Boehner has sought to strengthen his hand internally as he engages Obama in difficult negotiations over a deficit-reduction plan that could avert the major tax increases and spending cuts that are set to begin in January.

When the Speaker sent a $2.2 trillion offer that included $800 billion in new tax revenue to the White House last week, he secured the signatures of every member of the House Republican leadership team, two other committee chairmen and Ryan, the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012.

While outside conservative groups denounced the offer of new revenues, there was little sign of rebellion within Boehner’s conference.

Multiple aides to conservative members on Monday downplayed the chance of a serious challenge to Boehner. And any threat to his Speakership would be unlikely to materialize before the details of a budget deal with Obama emerge.

But the chatter among conservative activists outside Congress underscores the risk Boehner faces in his negotiations with the president, particularly if he yields to Obama’s demands for higher tax rates on the wealthy and an increase in the debt ceiling without securing significant concessions in return.

The Speaker has explicitly pushed his conference to present a unified front during the lame-duck congressional session, but that has not stopped Republicans on all sides of the fiscal debate from speaking up.

Several conservative groups have criticized Boehner for offering revenue to Obama, bolstering the Speaker’s argument that he is making concessions that the president must match.

Lawmakers like Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) and Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 K.T. McFarland officially withdrawn as nominee for ambassador K.T. McFarland withdraws as nominee for ambassador MORE (Tenn.), meanwhile, have urged the party to bend on tax rates, potentially providing political cover to Boehner if he gives more ground to Obama. 

Justin Sink contributed.