Just as the Washington narrative had started to shift a bit from "House Speaker John Boehner doesn't have the juice to get his conference to support him" to "Boehner is getting his fellow Republicans to rally around him" it shifts back to the former.
That's because he was unable to get enough members of the Republican conference to commit to voting for his debt-ceiling increase.
It should go without saying, this is a signal setback for the speaker, who in recent days had pleaded, cajoled and demanded that his conference get behind him if, for no other reason, to show solidarity as he confronts the Democrats who control the Senate and the White House.
Aides in the speaker's office are telling reporters that they still expect a vote Thursday night. But that doesn't minimize the fact that after raising expectations for a vote that was seen as a test of his persuasive powers as speaker, Boehner was forced to order a strategic retreat.
The message many analysts are bound to take away from this episode is that the tail is wagging the dog to a degree a large degree in the House Republican conference, namely members linked to the Tea Party, including freshmen.
Those members have little allegiance to Boehner. In fact, many of them eye him suspiciously as a card-carrying member of the Washington establishment that's part of the problem, not the solution.
They felt burned by the budget deal Boehner negotiated with President Obama earlier this year to prevent the government shutdown in March, that Boehner told them there were more spending cuts in that package than there actually were.
They vowed they wouldn't be fooled again and that was reflected, in part, in Boehner's failure to get enough votes for his debt-ceiling bill by the time of the scheduled vote, 6 pm eastern time Thursday.
It should be said that not all House Republicans with Tea Party connections were against Boehner. Some held a news conference for his bill Thursday. Unfortunately for Boehner, not enough supported him.