By Rebecca Shabad - 09/18/15 09:22 AM EDT
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ohio) shouldn’t count on Democratic support if conservatives in the GOP conference attempt to oust him, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said on Friday.
“I cannot say that he can count on the support of Democrats,” Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
The Maryland Democrat, who’s running for the Senate next year, went on to say he would have to think “long and hard” about that question again if there is a motion to vacate Boehner from the speakership.
“My view is that the Republican caucus should find its leader,” he said.
Van Hollen is in a unique position because he’s being attacked by the left from his Democratic competitor Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in that Senate race. If he were to express support for Boehner, it could open up new attacks from Edwards and the left.
His comments are also noteworthy because most Democratic leaders have refused so far to weigh in on the issue of Boehner’s future.
On Wednesday, for example, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) did not say whether House Democrats could vote for Boehner as Speaker. “We'll have to make some decision on what we want to do if such a vote is forced,” he said.
A few months ago, The Hill reported that most Democrats would protect Boehner in such a vote because they wouldn’t want to see a Tea Party member leading the House.
Boehner has not yet revealed how he intends to move forward on a government-funding bill and whether he’ll give in to conservative demands to defund Planned Parenthood through that measure. The pressure from conservatives wanting to oust him is weighing on his decision, Van Hollen said.
“It appears the Speaker is much more worried about his own speakership than he is about shutting down the government,” Van Hollen said at the beginning of the breakfast.
Boehner has “got to work with Democrats” in order to accomplish key issues on the legislative agenda, he said.
On Thursday, Boehner met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for about 20 minutes to discuss funding the government by Oct. 1 in order to prevent a government shutdown.
Van Hollen echoed what Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after a meeting with President Obama on Thursday, saying that he would support a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded.
“My view is that a CR should be very short and keep the pressure on to come to a longer-term agreement,” he said.
Democrats want a CR that lasts only a couple of months in order to reach a larger budget deal that would raise sequestration-spending caps.
The House has only six legislative days left before the funding deadline.