In the immediate aftermath of last year’s debt default crisis, Jia Lynn Yang and Tom Hamburger wrote an article for the Washington Post about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was sticking with their man, John Boehner.

Despite presiding over a chamber that nearly drove the country to a debt default, John A. Boehner still has the enduring support of a group that would have been most harmed by that event: the business community.

Rather than revisit their strategy of supporting Republicans after this week’s near-disaster, influential organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are standing behind Boehner. More important, Boehner’s friends in the business community are getting ready to take sides in a few Republican primary races against tea party candidates in Michigan, Idaho and Alabama who could cause the House speaker more trouble.

Boehner, who was once president of a small plastics company in Ohio, has spent much of his career burnishing the GOP’s identity as the party of business, building deep relationships since the 1990s with groups like the U.S. Chamber by providing legislative favors and easy access through countless receptions and rounds of golf.

The Chamber didn’t see the Speaker as the problem, and they were willing to give a wink and a nod to his indulgence of his more intransigent members.

In return, business groups have helped Boehner and his counterparts in the Senate raise millions of dollars to put Republicans in office, including the 2010 election of tea party lawmakers who have now roiled the GOP.

It’s this decades-long relationship that helps explain why even as one wing of the Republican Party threatened to drive the economy off a cliff, the business community has largely stuck by its party — and its man, Boehner. These lobbyists say they are worried that Boehner has a shaky hold over his caucus.

“I don’t think [lobbyists] are going to push John to commit suicide as a political leader,” said John Motley, a longtime lobbyist and former vice president of legislative affairs at the National Federation of Independent Business. “It’s more important to have him there than to not have him there.”

But Boehner is not delivering. He hasn’t allowed a vote on immigration reform, he hasn’t delivered money for the Highway Trust Fund, and he’s now feigning neutrality on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank:

This past week the divide played out in the debate over whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, a government agency that makes and guarantees loans to help U.S. exporters sell their products. It’s a priority for the business community, but conservatives have seized on it as the latest example of corporate welfare, with conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation urging lawmakers to stand opposed.

It’s certainly a minor matter to most voters, and some more establishment-aligned Republicans marveled that it’s become an issue at all.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank could become a defining issue for Republicans,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

Yet the conservative opposition has been such that the newly elected House majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reversed himself and announced his opposition to the bank, and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a supporter in the past and a leading business ally, elected to remain neutral in this go-round.

Think about that. The Chamber of Commerce has spent all this money trying to defeat Tea Party candidates only to have the Speaker adopt a position of official neutrality on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

They’ve been defeated, and their best ally has abandoned them.

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