As shutdown nears, McConnell and Boehner remain far apart

The weeks of standstill culminated at a Wednesday morning conference meeting with the admission from Boehner—one that some members found startling—that he had not spoken with McConnell for two weeks. The two men met Wednesday afternoon, but not before the comment dominated Democratic press releases and talking points and set Sen. Chuck Schumer’s eyes aglow.

In reality, the absence of a meeting over the last two weeks (one of which members spent at home in their districts) didn’t mean the two men weren’t coordinating. Both leaders’ staffs insist they remained in contact constantly, and rank-and-file members said Wednesday they had little concern of a divide between Boehner and McConnell.

Instead, Boehner’s statement sheds more light on the dueling political pressures the speaker and majority leader face, two Republican senators and numerous staff sources told National Journal. Boehner’s distancing himself from the Senate leader could tamp down conservatives’ fears that the two are colluding to block them out in the final throes of legislative wrangling over the Department of Homeland Security funding bill.