This afternoon, the new 113th Congress convenes. Its first order of business will be to elect a Speaker of the House. For most of the media, this is merely a procedural hurdle to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’s reelection as Speaker. As Breitbart News has reported, however, there is growing dissatisfaction with Boehner’s leadership among conservative lawmakers. In recent days, Boehner has been reaching out to conservatives and making some concessions. Will it be enough to retain the Speakership?
Yesterday, Boehner announced to his caucus that he was no longer going to negotiate directly with President Obama. He committed to returning the House to its normal “regular order”, where they would deliberate on legislation through regular procedures and send it to the Senate after passage. Boehner had promised to use these procedures before assuming the Speakership, but subsequently broke that pledge. Will it be enough to retain the Speakership?
Over the past several weeks, as dissent within the caucus grew, a number of conservatives were awarded subcommittee gavels. Subcommittees are an important part of the normal legislative process, providing the first blue print of proposed legislation. Having conservatives in place to lead subcommittees will help shape legislation along conservative principles.
Late yesterday, Boehner loyalist Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced the subcommittee chairmanships for the powerful Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Notable conservative Reps. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) won chairman’s gavels on the committee.
No doubt, there are more concessions being made behind closed doors. For conservatives, the issue isn’t so much a question of who leads the House, but how the House is run. Under “regular order,” where individual members have a greater voice in final policies, conservatives will be better able to shape solutions to our nation’s challenges. It promises a dramatic improvement from the last Congress.
Boehner likely will be reelected Speaker this afternoon. But, he will only get there after assuring conservatives that he will run the House very differently. Hours before the vote, Boehner accepted some rule changes proposed by the conservative Republican Study Committee. If conservatives go through with their plan to force a second or third ballot, Boehner will have to make even more concessions. The House will be a better place for it.