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Price rejects Boehner’s ‘token’ back bench offer

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Reps. Tom Price and John BoehnerGeorgia Rep. Tom Price has rejected what one senior congressional Republican aide called a “token” offer by Speaker John Boehner to prevent an intraparty leadership election from spilling into the public square as lawmakers speed toward the fiscal cliff with no apparent solution.

Concerned that the fight between Price and fellow Republican lawmaker Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference could turn sour, Boehner asked the Roswell physician to stand down in exchange for the chairmanship of the Elected Leadership Council.

But whereas the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference falls fourth in the leadership plank, Boehner’s offer carried only ceremonial prestige.

The catch: Price would have to swear fealty to Boehner’s speakership, hewing the leadership’s line as it grappled with a president and upper chamber boasting of a voter mandate.

Price declined the proposal after considering it over night. Soon after he informed the speaker of his intentions to remain in the contest, the current and former chairs of the House Republican Conference began lobbying colleagues on Price’s behalf.

Conservative House GOP aides groused in emails to Tipsheet that leadership, which generally remains on the sidelines in these races, was trying to force conservative voices from the negotiating table by offering Price a post with no real muscle in the caucus.

“This was an absolutely shameful attempt by Speaker Boehner to edge conservatives from the table,” one said. Another complained it was a “token job that the speaker hoped would pacify his right flank.”

Price is already the fifth-highest ranking GOP lawmaker in the House for his steering of the Republican Study Committee, but another Georgian, Rep. Tom Graves, is hoping to land that spot. Both races will be decided this Wednesday by secret ballot.

- James Richardson

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