But that unity, more than anything, is critical for Boehner, especially as the debt limit nears. Per his allies, his fear is, if he brings up a clean CR, he’d be seen as conceding to Reid, who’s seen as the villain of villains within the House GOP. Thirty to forty conservatives would likely revolt against such a maneuver, and so would their backers in the conservative movement. In the press, he’d likely be cheered for a profile in courage; within the House, the decision would be seen by his critics on the right as a betrayal of the highest order. There is nothing they detest more than the idea of caving, and Boehner knows that.

Now, Boehner is aware that, on paper, potentially more than 100 House Republicans would be open to a clean CR should he bring one to the floor. But the internal chaos such a move could cause could be devastating, and with a major debt-limit battle approaching, he won’t let a CR vote divide his conference. That’s also why, on Monday, he took to the floor to personally whip the rule vote for his final CR proposal. He wanted to make sure King wasn’t creating a stir with his clean-CR pitch, and he wanted to remind members that sticking together was the key to surviving a showdown.