Sunday, August 01, 1999

Loser status proves short for Boehner

Congressman back from loss

Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — When Rep. John Boehner lost his House leadership position in late 1998, conventional wisdom dictated that he would slowly fade into the background in Congress.

        Some even speculated that he might lose interest in Congress altogether and leave Washington at the end of the 106th Congress.

        So much for conventional wisdom.

        Midway through 1999, congressional observers are talking about the rebirth of Mr. Boehner, R-West Chester, as a force on Capitol Hill.

        Mr. Boehner has used his new chairmanship of the employer-employee relations subcommittee of the Education and Workforce Committee to develop comprehensive legislation dealing with patients' rights and managed care reform.

        It is now the leading Re publican bill in one of the most partisan and high-profile congressional battles of the year. House floor action could come as early as this week.

        At the same time, Mr. Boehner has startled political observers by showing he can still flex considerable fund-raising skills for House GOP members — even without the portfolio he had from 1995-1998 as chairman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the House.

        The National Journal has called it “The Resurrection of John Boehner.”

        Mr. Boehner “dove into what may be the single most partisan and complicated issue and has handled it really well,” said Mark Isakowitz, a prominent Washington lobbyist.

        “It seems that whenever there is a hard job to do, John is the one to do it,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert said last week. “I rely on him.”


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