Among growing dissent, Boehner braces for re-election

Speaker Boehner

House leadership elections will be held later today, amid growing concern among conservatives for John Boehner’s leadership as Speaker. The hard truth for conservatives is that it looks like Boehner will eke out a victory over any would-be conservative challenger. In the 114th Congress (this one), the Republican caucus has swelled by more than a dozen Members, making victory from the right close to impossible.

In the 113th Congress, Boehner faced uncertainty when his safe Republican margin was almost totally diminished by a handful of defectors — conservatives like Raul Labrador, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash. The blog FiveThirtyEight revealed the Republican defection in 2013 was the largest act of defiance against an incoming Speaker since at least 1991, where records became available.

With the Republican caucus even larger, it would take 29 votes to stop John Boehner from becoming Speaker — and then the defectors would have to find a viable alternative. Names being floated now are Ted Yoho or Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Among UL readers, South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy has considerable support, but he has not indicated that he would break with party leadership.

The other 11 Republicans who have publicly announced they would oppose Boehner’s re-election today are Thomas Massie (KY), Justin Amash (MI), Dave Brat (VA), Jim Bridenstine (OK), Curt Clawson (FL), Paul Gosar (AZ), Walter Jones (NC), Steve King (IA), Gary Palmer (AL), Marlin Stutzman (IN), and Randy Weber (TX). The Blaze has an excellent summary of their public statements.

Michigan Republican Justin Amash, who staved off an establishment primary challenge in 2014, posted a lengthy explanation on Facebook this morning as to his reasoning behind voting against Boehner for Speaker later today.

In part:

Our party and our country are different than they were a generation ago. Americans at home have learned from the policy mistakes our Congress has made over the last few decades. It’s not clear that the men and women in congressional leadership have done the same. To appeal to more Americans and better reflect today’s Republicans, we need modern leaders who respect the diversity of ideas within the House of Representatives.

Speaker Boehner has been the leader of our party in the House for eight years. We have welcomed at least three large waves of new representatives during that time. Republican conference rules limit chairmen to six years in their offices to promote fresh thinking and new priorities. We should apply those same principles to all our party’s leaders.

The speaker of the House has one of the most challenging jobs in government. Speaker Boehner has given his best to our conference, and I thank him for his service. But it’s time for Republicans to change our leadership. This afternoon, I will vote for a new speaker.

The conservative challenge is not without strong allies. Both Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin have voiced their support for bold new leadership. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who was forced to resign as Speaker in 1999 (some say by a group led by John Boehner, who was at the time the Chairman of the House Republican Conference), tweeted support for Boehner, however.

UL sources on the Hill indicate House offices have been flooded with calls from conservative activists asking Members to vote against Boehner.

In the aftermath of the Boehner vote, conservatives must organize to achieve legislative success. As with the CROmnibus vote, it is likely that Boehner will court Democrat votes to advance major legislation. Conservatives must lend their voice in those discussions. What that means for readers of UL and other limited government advocates is that you must remain vigilant — calling your Member of Congress is perhaps the most effective way to make your voice heard.

One thing is certain: In the last several years, conservatives have made waves in Washington. The rise of the tea party and the ongoing pressure activists have put on Members has slowly begun to change the culture of Washington. And though legislative victories have been few and far between for conservatives since Republicans took the majority in the House, it is important to note that it isn’t easy to turn the ship around.

There have been incremental victories — places where conservatives have made a difference, even when the outcome wasn’t ideal. It is important for conservatives to keep up the fight.

As anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist puts it, for decades, Republicans and Democrats squabbled over how much to grow government, either a little bit (Republicans) or a lot (Democrats). They compromised somewhere in the middle.

Now Republicans, by and large, want to cut government, while Democrats are still committed to growing it. That’s why the fights in Congress seem bigger than in years past.

And as the next Speaker gavels in the House later today, jot this number down and be prepared to call your Member of Congress: (202) 224-3121

UPDATE (11:20am): According to the Daily Caller, two more Republicans have announced they would not vote for Boehner for Speaker: Tim Huelskamp (KS), who voted against Boehner in the 113th Congress, and Jeff Duncan (SC). That brings the total to 15 Republicans who have announced their opposition to re-electing John Boehner for Speaker.

UPDATE (4:45pm): A total of 25 Republicans voted against Boehner for Speaker, according to a Roll Call report. Boehner garnered 216 of the 408 votes cast, enough to stave off this latest challenge.


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