House conservatives looking to oust Boehner

Rumors of a conservative rebellion in the House of Representatives are beginning to get more attention. The Atlantic reports that 40 to 50 Republican members are ready to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and replace him with someone willing to work with conservatives in the ranks:

The conservatives’ exasperation with leadership is well known. And now, in discreet dinners at the Capitol Hill Club and in winding, hypothetical-laced email chains, they’re trying to figure out what to do about it. Some say it’s enough to coalesce behind—and start whipping votes for—a single conservative leadership candidate. Others want to cut a deal with Majority Leader Eric Cantor: We’ll back you for speaker if you promise to bring aboard a conservative lieutenant.

But there’s a more audacious option on the table, according to conservatives involved in the deliberations. They say between 40 and 50 members have already committed verbally to electing a new speaker. If those numbers hold, organizers say, they could force Boehner to step aside as speaker in late November, when the incoming GOP conference meets for the first time, by showing him that he won’t have the votes to be reelected in January.

The masterminds of this mutiny are trying to stay in the shadows for as long as possible to avoid putting a target on their backs. But one Republican said the “nucleus”of the rebellion can be found inside the House Liberty Caucus, of which he and his comrades are members. This is not surprising, considering that some of the key players in that group—Justin Amash of Michigan, Raul Labrador of Idaho, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky—were among the 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner’s reelection in January 2013.

Amash, chairman of the Liberty Caucus, warned at the time that there would be a “larger rebellion” down the road if Boehner’s leadership team did not bring conservatives into the fold. Such an insurrection never materialized, however, as Boehner deftly navigated a series of challenges last year and wound up winning over some of the malcontents.

There has already been a handful of stories in recent months about conservative discontent and the possibility of rebellion against Boehner. The talk is similar to what was said just before the election of the Speaker of the House at the beginning of the 113th Congress.

Though the half-hearted attempt to Boehner was unsuccessful, there was a clear message sent that there was dissatisfaction in the ranks with the status quo. Republican leadership hasn’t done much since January 2013 to work with conservative members.

The recent vote on the “doc fix,” for example, is an example of the perceived contempt Republican leadership has for its conservative wing. Cantor, by the way, led the push on that vote, making him an unattractive alternative for many conservative members.

The determining factor may be how Republicans preform in the mid-term election. If they pickup seats in the House and win the Senate, conservatives members could back down as the caucus rides on the high of an “electoral mandate,” if you will.

But if Republicans lose seats in the House and fail to take control of the upper chamber, that could be enough to seal Boehner’s fate, much like it did for then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) after the 1998 election. In which case, there’s no way the Ohio Republican stays in Congress.


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