One plan: Force the speaker to step aside before the new year.
Several dozen frustrated House conservatives are scheming to infiltrate the GOP leadership next year—possibly by forcing Speaker John Boehner to step aside immediately after November’s midterm elections.
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, Raúl 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.
But conservatives, increasingly irritated with what they see as a cautious approach taken by their leadership, are now adamant that Boehner’s tenure should expire with this Congress.
"There are no big ideas coming out of the conference. Our leadership expects to coast through this election by banking on everyone’s hatred for Obamacare," said one Republican lawmaker who is organizing the rebellion. "There’s nothing big being done. We’re reshuffling chairs on the Titanic."
Boehner isn’t the only target. The conservatives find fault with the entire leadership team. Privately, they define success as vaulting one of their own into any one of the top three leadership spots. But they think they’re less likely to accomplish even that limited goal with a narrow effort focused on knocking out one person or winning a single slot. That’s why this time around, unlike the ham-fisted mutiny of 2013, rebels are broadening their offensive beyond Boehner’s gavel.
Cantor, next in line for speaker and once considered a shoo-in to succeed Boehner, has found himself in conservatives’ crosshairs in recent weeks.
With Boehner out of town in late March, Cantor was charged with pushing a “doc fix” bill across the finish line. When it became apparent the measure might not clear the House floor, Cantor authorized a voice vote, allowing the bill to pass without registered resistance. This maneuver infuriated conservatives, who felt that leadership—Cantor in particular—had cheated them. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Caroline yelled “Bullshit!” outside the House chamber.
Some conservatives are still seething.
"I’m getting used to being deceived by the Obama administration, but when my own leadership does it, it’s just not acceptable," Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said last week, after Cantor met with a group of angry Republican Study Committee members.
Cantor told conservatives that a voice vote was “the least-bad option,” given the circumstances. But many Republicans aren’t buying it. Moreover, they said that with Boehner out of town, Cantor had an opportunity to impress them with his management of the conference—and didn’t.
"It’s an issue of trust. If you want to have a majority that is governing, and a majority that is following the leader, the rest of us need to be in a position where we trust our leadership," Labrador said this week, adding, "When you have politicians actually playing tricks on their own party, and their own members of Congress, I think that erodes the trust the American people have in the rest of us."
"I can’t think of a time where I felt my trust had been more violated since I’ve been here—and that’s pretty stiff competition," Mulvaney added.
Cantor’s allies say the whole episode has been overblown. But there’s no question that it has stirred fresh disillusionment within the rank and file. And it’s not just the tea-party members up in arms. One House Republican who is friendly with Cantor, and hardly viewed as a troublemaker, predicted, “If there’s another vote like [that], Eric won’t be speaker. Ever.”
This backlash has emboldened some of leadership’s conservative critics. Now, they say, they might try to force Boehner out and also demand that Cantor bring on a conservative deputy before agreeing to vote for him as speaker.
"Eric would make that deal in a heartbeat," said a Republican lawmaker who supports Cantor but opposes Boehner.
Neither Cantor nor his office would comment on leadership races.
Even if Cantor does ascend to speaker, there could be fireworks further down the leadership ladder. Doubts persist about whether Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Cantor’s closest friend in Congress, should earn a promotion to majority leader. The Californian is universally well liked, but some colleagues aren’t sold on his performance as whip. And if McCarthy does earn the No. 2 spot, there will almost certainly be a free-for-all to succeed him as whip, imperiling the expected advance of Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam.
Amid all the bold talk about Boehner and Cantor and the other leaders, some conservatives are thinking smaller. There is talk of meeting with leadership officials this fall and making demands about steering committee appointments and chairmanships. The idea would be to redistribute the decision-making and shake up what Rep. Louie Gohmert calls the “centralized, stovepipe dictatorship” that runs the congressional wing of the GOP.
Some members are convinced that Boehner will spare everyone the drama and decide to leave on his own. Sources close to the speaker have begun leaving the exit door ever so slightly open, and rumors of his retirement are now running rampant throughout the conference.
"All of this hinges on whether John is running for reelection," Mulvaney, who refused to vote for Boehner’s reelection in 2013, said of the potential leadership shuffling.
"I’d say about 80 percent of us expect him to step down after the elections," added one House Republican who has known Boehner for many years.
Boehner insists that he’ll seek another term as speaker.
"Speaker Boehner is focused on the American people’s top priority: helping our economy create more private sector jobs," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "He has also said—publicly and privately—that he plans to be speaker again in the next Congress."
But conservative plotters promise that, unlike 15 months ago, they’ve got the numbers to prevent that from happening. Even if they can’t recruit an alternative to pit against him, they’ll tell Boehner in the November conference meeting that they plan to vote against him on the House floor in January “until kingdom come,” one GOP lawmaker said.
It’s similar to the strategy conservatives used in 1998 to depose Speaker Newt Gingrich, who gave up his gavel in November once it became apparent that conservatives had the numbers to block his reelection on the floor in January. In this case, Boehner won’t be able to win a majority vote of the House if a large bloc of conservatives sticks together and votes against him. Sooner rather than later, the conservatives predict, the speaker would spare himself that humiliation and step aside.
But as of yet, there is no sign of a serious conservative challenger willing to run for a top leadership job, let alone for Boehner’s.
Organizers are actively recruiting two highly respected conservatives—Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Jim Jordan of Ohio—hoping that one will agree to lead their opposition movement. But both have told colleagues they aren’t interested. And the other frequently discussed scenarios, such as RSC Chairman Steve Scalise running for whip, would hardly qualify as the splash conservatives are determined to make.
The attempted overthrow in 2013 failed in part because conservatives didn’t have an alternative candidate for on-the-fence Republicans to rally around. Now, with each passing day, organizers fear history could repeat itself.
"Somebody has to step forward," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, one of 12 Republicans who refused to back Boehner’s reelection in 2013. "This is not something where after the election you can step forward. There’s going to be months and months of [planning] needed."
Allies of the current leadership team dismiss the legitimacy of any challenge to the ruling order, and they predict that any conservative coup—especially one aimed at winning the speakership—will fail. One senior Republican said that there are only “three Republicans capable of winning majority support to become speaker of the House: John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan.”
After several right-wing outside groups slammed the bipartisan budget deal negotiated by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) — in some cases before the deal was even announced — Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) hit his breaking point. “When you criticize something and you have no idea what you’re criticizing, you’ve lost your credibility,” he told reporters Thursday, noting that it “comes to a point where some people step over a line.” But Boehner’s frustration has no doubt been building up over this three years as Speaker, as groups like Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) have stymied his attempts to pass even conservative-friendly legislation.
In 2011, Boehner and President Obama were on the verge of reaching a “grand bargain” on taxes, spending, and deficit reduction. The talks fell through, in part because freshmen Republicans and the conservative groups that backed them were unwilling to accept new revenue.
Here are some of the bipartisan and GOP measures the groups have worked to block over the past three years:
The 2011 Budget Control Act.
Facing a possible default on the national debt, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed on a bill to force automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, unless a “super committee” could find sufficient savings cut hundreds of billions of dollars from federal spending over the next ten years. Though Boehner had made in clear in 2010 that when Washington hit its debt limit, Congress would “have to deal with it as adults,” groups on the right opposed increasing the ceiling. Heritage Action denounced the agreement, arguing that “Speaker Boehner’s most recent proposal to raise the debt limit is regrettably insufficient for our times.” With FreedomWorks and SCF also opposed, 66 House Republicans voted against the bill.
The New Year’s Eve 2012 Fiscal Cliff deal.
As 2012 ended, Congress grappled with a standoff over the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and the beginning of drastic sequestration cuts. After Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reached a deal to extend some of the tax cuts, let others expire, and delay the cuts, the groups blasted the deal as “higher taxes.” FreedomWorks announced it would count a vote for the bill against legislators, while Heritage Action slammed it before it was even announced as a “K Street gravy train,” laden with giveaways to special interest groups. The deal passed with Boehner’s support, but the majority of Republicans voting against.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June by an overwhelming 68-32 super-majority. The bill had the strong opposition of SCF and Heritage Action, who attacked it as “amnesty.” While Boehner initially agreed that it was “time for Congress to act,” GOP opposition has delayed any House action until at least 2014.
Efforts to avert the October 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare.
The effort to force a government shutdown over defunding Obamacare was largely driven by freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Even though Boehner warned that it was a bad strategy, SCF and the other groups pressured Republican members to oppose any bill to fund the government without killing the Affordable Care Act. As the government shutdown dragged on, Boehner was forced to pull bills from the floor as members of his caucus refused to go against the groups’ wishes. At one point, he reportedly recited the Serenity Prayer at a closed-door caucus meeting at which he announced his “Plan B” was being scrapped for lack of Republican support. Though FreedomWorks believed the standoff a “brilliant strategy,” Congress eventually reopened government without any repeal. A furious Heritage Action said the compromise “will do nothing to stop Obamacare’s massive new entitlements from taking root — radically changing the nature of American health care.”
The 2013 Farm Bill.
On October 1, Congress allowed the historically bipartisan Farm Bill to expire. Attempts to revive the law, which funds numerous programs vital to the nation’s food supply, have been ongoing. Citing “myriad flaws with both the House and Senate” farm bill proposals, Heritage Action suggested there were “a trillion reasons not to pass the Farm Bill.” FreedomWorks opposed even the more conservative House proposal as “80% food stamps and 100% fiscally irresponsible.” Boehner backed the House bill, but 62 Republicans joined with 172 Democrats to defeat it.
John Boehner is America’s worst Speaker in our nation’s fine history.
Republican Congressman Gohmert Insults Nancy Pelosi’s Appearance: ‘There’s No Facelift With John Boehner’
An outspoken Republican congressman castigated House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s looks during a radio interview Friday.
Speaking with guest host Larry O’Connor on The Dennis Miller Show, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) argued that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was functionally equivalent to Pelosi because both held one-on-one backroom negotiations with the president. Gohmert then went on to deride Pelosi’s appearance: “Well, let’s give him credit. There’s no facelift with John Boehner.”
O’CONNOR: So basically John Boehner became Nancy Pelosi without the charm?
GOHMERT: For the last two years. Well, let’s give him credit. There’s no facelift with John Boehner. He is who he is.
BREAKING: Incumbent Speaker of the House John “Worst Speaker Yet” Boehner retains Speakership.
New York Republicans and Democrats are publicly furious with Speaker John Boehner for abruptly cancelling an expected vote late Tuesday night on a relief package for victims of superstorm Sandy.
The Senate recently passed an aid package for Sandy victims worth $60 billion, a price tag that made many House Republicans nervous. So they decided to divide it up into two parts: $27 billion and $33 billion. The first part was vetted by appropriators for wasteful spending but the second wasn’t. And most of the latter chunk would not have been spent in the first year, anyway. So one school of thought was to vote separately on both and let the chips fall where they may.
The likely upshot was that the House would immediately authorize $27 billion for victims and give themselves time to determine, in the next Congress, how much of the rest was necessary. A two-track vote was expected after the bill to avert the fiscal cliff. But it never happened. Why was it pulled?
Wednesday morning on the House floor, New York Republican Reps. Peter King and Michael Grimm blamed Boehner for what they described as a betrayal.
“It was entirely the speaker’s decision,” said a GOP leadership aide, who doesn’t work in Boehner’s office. “As to why we’re not voting on it now? That’s a question I can’t answer.”
At a press conference in New York, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Wednesday that he’s “distraught” and “angry” over the House’s failure to hold a vote, blaming it on a House GOP “leadership squabble.” He said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been “truly helpful” in piecing together the package and blamed Boehner.
“Cantor has been very much for us, but Speaker Boehner … pulled the rug out from under us,” Schumer said. “It’s a Boehner betrayal.”
A Cantor aide affirmed that the majority leader has been pushing for the package.
Per Repubmussen Poll, House Speaker John Boehner Replaces Nancy Pelosi As Least Popular Congressional Leader In US History!!!
According to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports, House Speaker John Boehner now has the dubious honor of being the nation’s least popular member of congressional leadership. With 51 percent of voters disapproving of his performance, Boehner replaces Nancy Pelosi as the least liked member of congressional leadership, a post she held for several years.
With a net favorability rating of negative 20, Boehner’s approval numbers are at the lowest point since he accepted the position of House Speaker. Even among his own party the results aren’t much better: only 55 percent of Republicans approve of his performance.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) didn’t fare much better, with an unfavorable rating of 36 percent.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rounded out the Democratic leadership, with unfavorable reviews of 50 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
The only Congressional politician to get overall positive remarks was Vice President Joe Biden, with a 49 percent favorability rating versus 45 percent unfavorable.
The Rasmussen poll surveyed 900 likely voters by phone between Dec. 18 and Dec. 19, and reporter a 3 percent margin of error.
Scoop! Paul Ryan To Be Next House Speaker, According To Some Secret Random Dude Who Gossiped To Laura Ingraham
So some chick is all “Oh maybe Cathy McMorris-Rodgers will be the new Speaker or something because everything I say is not completely laughable fiction.” And then Laura Ingraham is all “I am doing my best not to smirk at your uninformed drivel, fellow television pundit, but everyone knows that some random male source says that the next Speaker of the House will be Paul Ryan, because stud.” But be careful, GOPpies! You come at King Boehner, you’d best … haha, sorry, we are just kidding. That dude is Dead Drunk Walking. So the winner of yesterday’s brain tickler quiz is everybody who answered “a pile of human shit.” Congratulations, everyone in the world!
Paul Ryan, if he is indeed the next Speaker of the House, will be the worst one this country’s ever had. He is worse than the last three GOP Speakers (Gingrich, Hastert, Boehner) we had combined. I’d rather have Pelosi back as Speaker anyday.
This is a gif waiting to happen. (via @ezraklein)
Boehner = Worst Speaker Ever!
Remember this: Fire John Boehner as Speaker Of The House and replace him with Nancy Pelosi! #speakerPelosi
We want Pelosi back as Speaker!!!!!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Normally outspoken Nancy Pelosi is mum about her future.
She won’t say if she will step aside as Democratic leader of the U.S. House of Representatives if her party fails, as expected, to win back the chamber from Republicans in Tuesday’s elections.
Pelosi recently fanned speculation about her future by scheduling House Democratic leadership elections later than many anticipated, after the November 22 Thanksgiving Day holiday, rather than at the outset of the lame-duck session of the House that begins a week after the November 6 election.
Several of her colleagues say Pelosi would retain her leadership job if she does choose to run.
Pelosi said in an interview with Reuters that she decided to have leadership elections later to give newly elected members more time to get acquainted before deciding on leaders and to let members focus on the election without distraction.
"There’s feeling she wants to give herself more time to think about what she will do," one party aide said.
Pelosi said she is too busy to “waste a moment or an ounce of energy” on the hypothetical question.
"Right now, our focus is on one thing - winning," Pelosi said in a telephone interview between campaign events.
Besides she said, “Do you ask (Republican presidential nominee) Mitt Romney what he will do if he loses? … There is no way on Earth that he’s going to win.”
Pelosi was speaker of the House - the first and only woman to hold the post - from 2007 until January 2011, when Republican John A. Boehner took over after a Republican sweep in the 2010 congressional elections.
"Organize, don’t agonize. That’s my motto," said Pelosi, 72, who was first elected to Congress from San Francisco 25 years ago.
Pelosi dismisses predictions by most analysts that Democrats will fall far short of picking up the needed 25 seats to take the 435-member House.
"I’ve never been to one to go along with the experts," she said. "There are a lot of close races that can go either way."
Interviews with a dozen House Democrats found all saying it’s unclear what Pelosi will do about the leadership job.
"I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t know. I doubt she’s given it much thought," said Democratic Representative Gerald Connolly. "She’s thinking about the here and now."
But all agreed that if Pelosi decides to run again for House Democratic leader, she would get the job.
"We get our inspiration from her aspiration to accomplish great things," said Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings.
Democratic Representative George Miller said: “I don’t know what she’ll do. It’s her decision. But I think it’s unlikely she leaves. She is a warhorse.”
"She gives all the signs that she intends to run again for leader," said one Democratic aide who asked not to be named. "She’s working hard for members. She’s out there raising money. She’s totally engaged."
Critics say Pelosi should have followed the example of former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, who left leadership after his party lost the chamber in 2006.
I want to see a return to having a good House Speaker, and her name is Nancy Pelosi (D). #speakerPelosi
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Sunday that Democrats have a “very excellent chance” to retake the House majority in November, and characterized the day Republican Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his vice presidential running mate as a “pivotal” one in the campaign.
Democrats need to net 25 seats to win back the majority. Pelosi, whose served as House speaker during the last Congress in which Democrats were in the majority declined to say Sunday whether she would run for House Democratic leader if her party falls short of taking back the majority.