Politico’s Jake Sherman is now discovering that House Speaker John Boehner is in serious jeopardy of losing his powerful post.
Sherman, one of leadership’s closest confidantes in the media who seems to print virtually anything Boehner’s office gives him, co-bylined a stunning indictment of Boehner’s lack of leadership on Tuesday with fellow Politico reporter John Bresnahan.
“Something has changed for John Boehner,” Sherman and Bresnahan wrote.
Figures in his close-knit circle of allies are starting to privately wonder whether he can survive an all-but-certain floor vote this fall to remain speaker of the House. And, for the first time, many top aides and lawmakers in the House do not believe he will run for another term as House leader in 2017. The Boehner era might be coming to an end, they say.
They quote Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)—one of Boehner’s best friends and closest allies—as not being certain that Boehner would even seek reelection as Speaker of the House.
“That’s a personal decision he has to make. I don’t know why he would want to, personally,” Westmoreland told Politico when asked if he will run for reelection. “But I do think that he feels, in his heart of hearts, he feels like he’s doing what’s best for this country — regardless of what the political consequences are. That says something about somebody.”
Politico’s Sherman and Bresnahan then wrote about how they have spoken confidentially with several sources close to Boehner who worry he is about to lose his power.
“As Congress returns Tuesday for what could be one of the most challenging stretches of his nearly five years as speaker, POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen lawmakers and aides in direct contact with Boehner,” they wrote.
Uniformly they sympathized with his plight: Caught between an intractable right flank and a Democratic president, they say he’s managed to get a remarkable amount done. But they also questioned Boehner’s viability in the near- and long-term — most of them spoke privately to protect their relationship with him — as the 65-year-old speaker approaches a quarter-century of service in the House. Boehner spent most of the summer recess crisscrossing the country on behalf of Republican lawmakers, appearing at 50 political events in more than a dozen states. But the speaker and his aides also spent time over the August break quietly touching base with scores of GOP colleagues across the spectrum — which could serve to shore up his standing ahead of a potential coup attempt by conservatives.
At this time, as Breitbart News has reported, there are 28 members who publicly support removing Boehner as Speaker of the House—25 from the beginning of this Congress, and three more who have since gone public.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) has put forward a resolution to do so, called a motion to vacate the chair. If even one more member of the several additional Breitbart News has confirmed at this time oppose Boehner’s reelection becomes public then those seeking his ouster will have reached the threshold necessary—29 Republican votes—in public to ensure he cannot remain Speaker of the House without Democrat votes or some other kind of shenanigans, like several members not voting or being out of town.
Inadvertently, that is what happened at the beginning of this Congress, when several Democrats were at a funeral for former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo—and the vote threshold to remove Boehner increased from 29 to somewhere in the high 30s. Boehner would have at least had to go to a second ballot in January—at which it was expected he’d face serious competition, and lose—had freshmen GOP members who pledged on the campaign trail that they’d vote against Boehner did so, and had the Democrats not been at Cuomo’s funeral.
Now, with Meadows’ resolution out there gaining steam as constituents nationwide are barraging their congressmen with calls and emails about it, it’s clear that even Boehner’s inner circle is worried that he won’t be able to survive—and if he does somehow walk away from such a move, that he it is unclear if he will want to remain Speaker after this Congress. In other words, Boehner is a dead man walking—and it’s only a matter of time before he’s gone.
With Planned Parenthood funding, the highway bill, government funding bill, the debt ceiling and more coming up, Sherman and Bresnahan write that Boehner’s own office expects his speakership will be challenged.
“Boehner’s aides say they expect a vote to oust him, formally known as a motion to vacate the chair,” they write. “Boehner allies privately acknowledge the daunting challenge.”
They then quote one such “Boehner ally” anonymously as suggesting Boehner will lose re-election.
“Who knows?” the Boehner “ally” told Politico when asked if he could survive a coup attempt. “I don’t know. I don’t know how you change this dynamic.”
Politico’s Sherman and Bresnahan practically invited Democrats to vote for Boehner’s re-election to preserve his speakership.
“Boehner is nearly certain to lose the support of the 25 lawmakers who voted against him last time, plus a few more who’ve grown frustrated with him,” they write.
But Democrats would also get a say, and should they vote to keep Boehner as speaker — opposing him would invite chaos, and it’s anyone’s guess who they’d have to deal with as his replacement — Boehner would likely retain the gavel until January 2017, unless he decided to call it quits sooner. Meadows did not force a vote in July, but GOP leadership assumes someone will this fall.
What they fail to mention is if Boehner is re-elected with Democrat votes, there will probably be full-scale chaos in Congress and on the campaign trail.
Everything Boehner will have done for any other Republican at that point is immediately tainted with Democrat-ness and there would be a massive rush to frame them all as one giant political class party with the Democrats—and Republicans would lose their ability to claim they are independent of the Democratic Party.
Ultimately, that’s the kind of thing that’s even more a winner for someone like Donald Trump on the campaign trail—so it’s entirely a win-win scenario for anti-political class conservatives like Meadows and his supporters no matter which way it all happens.