Twenty-nine Republican legislators now oppose House Speaker John Boehner’s re-election, so Breitbart News can confirm he can only continue as the leader if Democrats vote for him or if he pulls some spectacular maneuver.
Before this report, there were 28 GOP members publicly opposed to Boehner’s re-election. Twenty-five of them voted against Boehner at the beginning of the Congress, and three more have come out in public since.
The additional conservative House member—who at this time wishes not to be publicly named for leverage purposes in forthcoming negotiations with leadership—has confirmed that if and when a vote on Boehner’s future comes up this fall, he will vote against Boehner’s retention.
The number of votes against Boehner “is easily into the 30s, and could well be into the 40s or even up to 50,” the GOP member said. “I think the votes are there.”
“I stand with virtually everyone in the Freedom Caucus and many outside the Freedom Caucus, which is if a vote to vacate the chair ever came up I’d have to vote for it,” the Republican member, who is very connected in the conference and will probably bring several more votes with him, told Breitbart News in an interview.
“There’s just too much frustration with the Speaker. The Speaker has not done his job. He doesn’t fight for the principles we think are important. Our constituents are very frustrated.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), a conservative who has supported Boehner every time he’s voted for Speaker, is skeptical of the effort.
“You have to have 124 Republican votes to have a reasonable chance of success,” Brooks argued in an interview with Breitbart News at the Stop Iran Rally.
“I think people suggesting 30 or 40 or even 50 Republicans supporting a motion to vacate the chair are misguided. They haven’t done the math. They haven’t talked to Democrats. I think there is a reasonable probability that Democrats will not vote [against Boehner]—that they will abstain—and in that case, if all Democrats abstain, you have to have 124 [GOP] votes for a motion ‘to vacate the chair’ to be successful.”
Brooks worries that a replacement for Boehner might push through an amnesty bill—and do other things that are not conservative. He credits Boehner with eventually undercutting the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill last Congress, following its passage through the Senate, even though Boehner wants to do an amnesty as much as anyone else.
The newest member this anti-Boehner coalition told Breitbart News that for now he wants to remain anonymous because it will help him and the rest of the conservatives in their negotiations with leadership on major issues, such as Planned Parenthood defunding, the Iran deal, the debt ceiling and spending bills.
But there’s nothing that could budge his vote when it comes to Boehner’s future, the member said.
“There’s going to be a point down the road when we all come together on that,” the GOP member told Breitbart News.
“There’s a benefit to us knowing that information and the speaker not knowing that information. We can make better calculations by knowing and he not knowing—I know that the press always wants to keep whip counts and what not, I don’t blame you for that. The idea here is the best time to approach this is when we fail to defund something or to stand up for something that is very, very important, ideal and principles,” the member said.
“Many of us think this issue with Planned Parenthood and funding the government could be that moment. We don’t know. But we know there’s going to be some tough issues to tackle, debt ceiling and all of that. Any of these could well trigger an event and many of us again may not be ready to take that vote but if we are forced to take the vote we have to do what we have to do.”
The following members comprise the original 28: Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Justin Amash (R-MI), Brian Babin (R-TX), Rod Blum (R-IA), David Brat (R-VA), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Curt Clawson (R-FL), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Walter Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Richard Nugent (R-FL), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), Randy Weber (R-TX), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Ted Yoho (R-FL).
Twenty-five of those 28 voted against Boehner at the beginning of the year. Three more issued public statements backing up Meadows since he offered a resolution that would remove Boehner and force the House to vote for a new speaker if and when Boehner is gone.
The significance of a 29th Republican joining the opposition Boehner can’t be understated.
This means that if all members of the House are present and voting should the motion to remove Boehner as Speaker come up for a vote—and no Democrats vote for Boehner—those seeking to ouster Boehner have reached the bare minimum threshold necessary to remove him as Speaker of the House.
It will likely grow from here—though conservatives are watching for Boehner’s counter-push.
Mulvaney had previously told Breitbart News that he expects there are well more than enough GOP votes to oust Boehner, via a full-caucus vote to vacate the chair.
Rep. Ted Yoho is confident Boehner doesn’t have the votes to survive. “Those are the numbers I’ve seen, yeah, and we’ll just have to see if leadership falls in line and starts solving these problems,” Yoho told Breitbart News at the Stop Iran Rally hosted by Tea Party Patriots last week.
The debt ceiling is a perfect example—you remember when the country shut down in September of 2013 and October of 2013? We’ve had two years to deal with this problem. We’ve not had a discussion, a debate, a strategy session and Hal Rogers was quoted in Politico on July 27 and he said he’s asked John Boehner to have discussions and debates about that and it’s been like crickets—there’s been no noise—and then he went on to say we’ll have about 12 legislative days to deal with an increase of about a trillion dollars in spending. That’s a lack of leadership. That’s what these people are tired of. We don’t have Obamacare. We have Boehner-care.
Yoho added that while he’s not certain yet whether there will be a vote for Boehner’s speakership, he said “yes I do” when asked if he though the anti-Boehner vote would be successful.
Even if they’re not committing to voting against Boehner publicly, more Republicans are willing to question his leadership on the record.
At the rally, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA)—a conservative freshman who had previously voted for Boehner after campaigning that he wouldn’t do so — is now finding himself in a tough spot as Boehner keeps screwing up GOP initiatives. He told Breitbart News he’s not yet sure whether he will vote for or against Boehner.
“We’re going to see how that plays out but Americans are wanting good leadership,” Loudermilk said. “It’s not about new leadership, it’s about better leadership—and the willingness to stand up and fight. I think they’re hearing us right now. We’re going to have some change on that. But I will not vote for a Continuing Resolution that funds Planned Parenthood or busts our caps.”
Loudermilk, — like many other members — is drawing a line in the sand against the Iran deal and Planned Parenthood funding.
“If you look at it right now, the Iran deal is probably the most dangerous thing we’re going to face in my lifetime,” Loudermilk said.
I am totally about defunding Planned Parenthood—it is absolutely atrocious what they are doing—but when you think about the lives that are lost what Planned Parenthood has murdered will pale in comparison to what will happen if Iran gets a nuclear bomb. That’s exactly what this will do. It paves a path for them to get a nuclear weapon. They talk about that there will be war if we don’t have a deal? This leads to war. Think about it: They’re going to be able to increase their conventional arms. That means when they cheat—and they will—we’re going to have to go in and take it out. And they’re going to have much better air defenses, ground defenses—it’s going to be a huge cost of American lives.
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) added in an interview with Breitbart News at the rally that he’s not sure yet how he’ll come down on a Boehner speakership vote.
“That one, I want to take as it comes,” Sanford said when about Meadows’ motion. “I don’t want to decide ahead of time on the complexion of votes I don’t know. So I’ll take a wait-and-see and react as it comes along, if it comes along, to that one.”
Sanford noted the same thing as Loudermilk in his interview with Breitbart News, which is basically that his decision on whether he will vote for Boehner’s re-election hinges on a what’s basically an obstacle course that lay ahead for the Speaker with Iran, Planned Parenthood and more coming up.
“It’s the whole, it’s never any one vote in this process. Let’s see what comes out of the next couple days,” Sanford said when asked if there’s a red line Boehner can’t cross if he wants his vote.
Sanford also noted that it’s pretty clear with the thousands of people protesting that day outside the Capitol that folks are furious — not just at Democrats for doing bad things — but at Republican leadership for not fighting to stop the Democrats.
“I think it [the large crowds outside the Capitol] says the obvious which is that people have been concerned, are concerned, and will continue to be concerned about the constructs of the deal, the way in which the president has advanced it, and its implications for the Middle East and the world at large,” Sanford said. “People are frustrated with the ways of Washington, and one of the ways of Washington is to say it’s problem and only give it lip service. If it’s a problem, do something about it. One of the things we can do something on is not take a vote on a construct the president himself signed into law when he’s violating it and in this case he is.”
At the Stop Iran Rally, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told Breitbart News there is a “lot of frustration” with Boehner.
“There’s a lot of frustration with Speaker Boehner in particular,” Farenthold said.
I feel it. You see it with McConnell not being able to muster the votes possibly to even get cloture on this Iran deal? Come on. This is simple leadership. He needs to be able to marshal up a few Democrats to at least get a vote on it and then we need to put it on the president’s desk. You know the president will veto it and then we need to come back and get the American people writing to their member of Congress, writing to their senator, and coming to rallies like this saying no this is a bad deal we’ve got to stop it.
Farenthold didn’t explicitly say he won’t support Boehner, but he hinted at it when asked if he would vote for Boehner’s re-election if the Speaker doesn’t fight on all these fronts.
“If you look at the trade rags like Politico, you’re seeing stories about Speaker Boehner being in trouble,” Farenthold said. “This is his opportunity to shine—this is his opportunity to show leadership. I would hate to be in his shoes if he drops the ball on this one.”
Farenthold added that the mood in America is strongly against the political class.
“This [the crowd size at the Stop Iran Rally] is the same thing I saw in my town hall meetings back in Texas—this is a president going around the will of the American people, going around Congress and making the world a more dangerous place. Do you not believe them when they say ‘Death to America?’” he said.
Clearly, those [stopping the Iran deal, securing the border and defunding Planned Parenthood] are the top three issues of folks back home in Texas. We’re on the front lines of the border wars, we’re a very pro-life state and we understand in Texas the danger of a nuclear Iran. Again, I think most Americans do—it just seems to stop when you get down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You’ve got the president putting pressure on the Democrats to pass this bad deal. I’ve heard stories about him offering public works projects in folks’ districts—buying votes—but what good does a new bridge in your district do if you’ve been nuked?
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a more mainline conservative who usually does not fight with GOP leadership, wouldn’t defend Boehner. “What I hear from my constituents is of course they’re discontent with everything in Washington but so many of my constituents think now is not the time for that battle,” Blackburn said when asked if she’d support Boehner or Meadows if Meadows brings forth the motion to vacate the chair. “They want the focus to be on stopping the Iran deal, defunding Planned Parenthood, and getting the out-of-control spending under control.”
Blackburn noted that the crowd at the Stop Iran Rally shows how furious people are with this deal and want it stopped.
“I think the significant thing is these are individuals who have paid their way to Washington, D.C., to oppose the Iran deal,” she said as she was about to go on stage. “These are not paid political protesters. That is significant. I was on a flight coming in yesterday with some of the people—they love this country so much. They are willing to take days off and come here to say to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, ‘do not approve this deal.’”
Blackburn added that Obama has not complied with the law on the Iran deal.
“They [the Obama administration] have not complied because of that [them not releasing the side deal text],” Blackburn said. “While we want to get a vote so that everybody is on the record, we want to get all the information on these side deals–and we want to know who all participated in constructing these side deals. We don’t have the full information. This 2016 presidential election, the number one issue is national security and this is not something that helps enhance our security.”
Brooks wants to slow down the defenestration of Boehner. “Even if it is successful through, the one key piece that nobody is focusing on is what is the result?” he said.
You have to have 124 Republicans to nominate a conservative for Speaker of the House and 218 who would vote for that conservative on the House floor. We don’t have 124 conservatives in the House Republican conference. We certainly don’t have 218 Republican House members who would vote for a conservative nomination for Speaker of the House. So the most likely outcome if John Boehner is unseated, you would end up nominating and electing a Speaker who is more liberal and worse than John Boehner.
“If Kevin McCarthy is the Speaker, according to Heritage Action, he has a 54 percent ranking lifetime—which means he has the 232nd most conservative lifetime ranking in the United States Congress, which puts him in the liberal 20 to 30 percent of the GOP conference,” Brooks said. “We might very well lose the Senate ‘Gang of Eight’ bill under those circumstances, keep in mind that John Boehner was solely responsible for killing that bill the last Congress. But for John Boehner, that would be the law of the land—even with all the damage it would do to America.”
Even though he’s skeptical, Brooks is open to hearing a game plan that would lead to a more conservative House GOP leadership team.
“If someone can come up with a game plan that show there is a reasonable prospect of electing someone more conservative to the House leadership, I am all for looking at it,” Brooks said.
But right now I am not going to deal in wishes. I am going to deal in rational thought. I have seen nothing that suggests to me that someone from the conservative 25 percent or third of the GOP conference can muster the votes with this GOP conference to win the nomination in the GOP conference for a GOP leadership position.