Paul Kane writes at The Washington Post that the fiscal cliff vote was a "breaking point for House Republicans, who had disintegrated into squabbling factions, no longer able to agree on — much less execute — some of the most basic government functions."
Ever since, Boehner has cautiously tried to steer his party away from that bitter moment, with varying success. A short-term strategy, which conservatives called “the Williamsburg Accord,” emerged from a bruising mid-January retreat. It restored enough unity to permit the House to dodge a government shutdown, badger the Senate into passing its first budget in four years and open investigations of the Obama White House.
But beyond those limited efforts, the House has not approved ambitious legislation this year. Lawmakers have instead focused on trying to re-brand the party around kitchen-table issues — although even some of those bills have run into trouble. And the most momentous policy decisions, including an immigration overhaul and a fresh deadline for raising the federal debt limit, have no coherent strategy to consolidate Republicans, much less take on the Democrats.
“We basically have gone three or four months where we built a bit of rhythm. It’s been better than the slug-fest of the previous two years,” said Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), who fought so furiously with leaders that they removed him from the Financial Services Committee in November. But, he added, “the thing you have to analyze is: Have we had a pretty good quarter because we stuck to the formula of Williamsburg? Or is it because we avoided the tough issues?”
Schweikert considers himself a guarded optimist, but interviews with nearly three dozen GOP lawmakers and senior aides revealed plenty of doubt. The majority is “adrift,” according to a longtime conservative. The top five leaders hail from blue states that voted for President Obama, making them out of step with a conference dominated by red-state Republicans. A junior Republican called it a “fractured” conference when it comes to the biggest issues.