The conservative revolt against John Boehner’s leadership failed to block his reelection as Speaker. The effort, however, came surprisingly close. A dozen of Boehner’s colleagues very publicly either voted for someone else for Speaker or chose not to vote. If just a handful of other conservatives had done the same, voting for Speaker would have moved to a second ballot. The dozen lawmakers may not have prevented Boehner’s reelection, but they did succeed in sending the Speaker a powerful message.
There is no doubt that other members considered opposing Boehner’s reelection. For reasons known only to them, they chose to side with the embattled Speaker. In the days leading up to Thursday’s vote, Boehner made a number of concessions to his conservative members. He promised to use “regular order” for House business and no longer enter into one-on-one negotiations with President Obama. A number of prominent conservatives were also awarded subcommittee chair gavels, allowing them to shape legislation.
These steps, and possibly others not yet announced, were apparently enough for some members to continue to support Boehner. If his Speakership is successful over the next two years, it will in no small part be due to the nearly successful conservative revolt. For that reason, the twelve members who publicly withheld their support of Boehner’s reelection, potentially at great political cost, deserve the thanks of all conservatives.
The revolt wasn’t as much about who was Speaker as reminding those in the Beltway that conservative principles and values are the bedrock of the Republican party.
John Boehner promised on Friday that there wouldn’t be any punishment or retribution against the 12 members who didn’t support him. We will have to hold him to that promise. After the November elections, Boehner stripped 4 members of their committee assignments, presumably because they hadn’t been supportive enough of his leadership. Hopefully, the closeness of his reelection will caution him against just such a drastive move.
Three of the votes against Boehner came from the four members purged from committees; Reps. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). Veteran Reps. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Paul Broun voted for Allen West. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) voted for Eric Cantor. Freshman members Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Tom Massie cast votes against Boehner.
Returning Rep. Steve Stockman, who served in Congress in the 1990s, voted “Present”. Reps. Paul Labrador and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) abstained from voting.