Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner will potentially face an uprising of conservatives this afternoon when he tries to get re-elected as Speaker of the House.
The plan the conservatives will likely follow is to force at least two, maybe several elections until a suitable alternative steps up to unite the party. If enough Republicans – 17 at a minimum – vote for someone besides Boehner as Speaker during the first election shortly after noon today, it will go to a second vote. Some groups have confirmed that more than 20 House Republicans plan to vote for somebody else as Speaker.
If that happens, the House will vote in several consecutive elections until a majority of every member voting agrees on a Speaker.
According to the plan some conservative members have circulated, the precedent they’ll be following was last employed in 1923 when Massachusetts Republican Rep. Frederick Gillett lost his first eight bids for re-election before winning on the ninth. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report the members seeking to ouster Boehner have been circulating for weeks notes that the 1923 incident is the only time this has happened since the “two established national parties,” Democrats and Republicans, took power.
As Fox News’ Chad Pergram notes, before the Republicans and Democrats were the two sole dominant American political parties, in 1856, it took 163 ballots to elect a Speaker of the House.
“Because of the predominance of the two established national parties throughout the period examined, only once during that period did the House fail to elect on the first roll call,” the CRS report said. “In 1923 (68th Congress), in a closely divided House, both major party nominees initially failed to gain a majority because of votes cast for other candidates by members from the Progressive Party, or from the ‘progressive’ wing of the Republican Party. Progressives agreed to vote for the Republican candidate only on the ninth ballot, after the Republican leadership had agreed to accept a number of procedural reforms favored by the progressives. Thus the Republican was ultimately elected, although (as noted earlier) still with less than a majority of the full membership.”
If Boehner ends up winning after a series of several elections, conservatives note in their plan that he’ll have to make several concessions to them – giving up lots of power.
“Perhaps the best use of the tactic is for conservatives to force Boehner to adopt House rules reform before they will vote for him, as progressives did successfully after 9 speaker ballots in 1923,” they note in their planning document.
Boehner has already renewed a promise he made to return the House to its constitutional “regular order,” a promise he’s broken over the past couple years after first making it in October 2010. He also has given in on the Hurricane Sandy relief package legislation.