Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who heads the Republican Study Committee, a group of fiscal conservatives, was part of the group Boehner tapped, along with Ryan, to devise the three-month debt-ceiling extension.
While he helped GOP leaders generate buy-in from conservatives for moving away from their insistence for spending cuts now, Scalise summed up his role going forward: "I need to pull our leadership to the right."
It's unclear how the debt-ceiling battle will play out. Some Democrats saw the move to as encouraging, but argue revisiting the issue in three months causes instability for financial markets. And House Democrats called the requirement for Congress to pass a budget a "gimmick."
Fiscal debates will again dominate Congress' agenda for early 2013, but other contentious battles such as immigration reform will also split House Republicans and could test Boehner's hold on the speaker's gavel.
After the shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut in December that killed 20 children and six adults, Obama has urged Congress to make legislation with new restrictions on guns and ammunition a top priority. Boehner told House Republicans at the retreat he'll look at what the administration is proposing, but he doesn't plan for the House to take any action until the Senate passes something, and that could be an uphill battle.
The GOP retreat also featured a panel with pollsters who showed internal numbers highlighting the party's deficit of support among women and minorities. Both Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno urged members to step up efforts to show it welcomes those groups.
Rep. Greg Walden, who runs the House GOP 2014 campaign operation to retain and expand their majority, told reporters he tapped Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, the youngest female House member and a Hispanic, to help with outreach.
But Walden admitted Republicans need to step up that effort as the Hispanic community was increasing its voting numbers.
"We recognize that Republicans have good answers, we just have bad communications in many cases."