By Molly K. Hooper - 09/15/09 03:22 PM EDT
GOP leader John Boehner says that House Republicans "have to make their own decisions" when the chamber votes on a resolution to disapprove of their colleague Rep. Joe Wilson's notorious "You Lie!" outburst.
Though Boehner (Ohio) made clear on Monday that he would oppose the Democratic resolution, the leader is not going to press his membership to do likewise.
For his part, however, Boehner said that the Democratic action — initiated by Wilson's fellow South Carolina colleague, Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn — is "patently partisan."
"The fact is they want to change the subject. They don't want to talk about healthcare because the American people are finding it very unpopular," the leader explained, noting that Wilson had already apologized to the president.
Some members in the 178-member minority party conference may break with their leader, a leadership official told the Hill.
The aide explained that Democrats worded the resolution in such a way that House institutionalists — fierce protectors of the chamber's rules of decorum — will be in a tough spot.
The Democrats' campaign arm was quick to seize on a Gallup poll released Tuesday morning that shows a majority of Republicans opposing Wilson's outburst.
In the poll, 39 percent of respondents say they supported Wilson, while 52 percent opposed his actions.
"It looks as if the Republican officials who intend to rally around Wilson today are more beholden to the Glenn Beck-listening, tea-partying, Wilson-defending GOP base than they are to ordinary rank-and-file Republicans," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeman Ryan Rudominer said in a statement Tuesday morning.