Can John Boehner lead a Republican congress down a new path?

Is Boehner retaining the podium just a continuation of the "old-white men's club"


WASHINGTON, January 5, 2015 –  The 114th Congress is the most republican in nearly 70 years.  It is the most diverse ever. It is still 80% white, and male.  And it is still divided – Republicans to Democrats, Republicans to Republicans, Everyone to the Tea Party conservatives, or as Boehner calls them, The Just Say No party.

Vice President Joe Biden has sworn in the new senators including the seats picked up in the 2014 mid-terms and they are now voting on the Speaker of the House, democrats voting for Nancy Pelosi while republicans are in general voting to re-elect John Boehner – though there is opposition to his rule.

Boehner needs the majority of the votes of those lawmakers that are present and voting and due to member absences and weather-related travel problems keeping members from the Capitol, it is unsure what number Boehner will actually need to secure the position. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was holding aircraft at their destination until 10 a.m., and spokesperson are reporting delays of between 15 and 30 minutes for flights already in the air.

Regardless, GOP leadership did not delay the vote, apparently because the fewer members on the floor voting, the easier it will be for Boehner to retain his position.

Boehner’s allies include the GOP leadership which has stated that Boehner could lose the support of anywhere between between 15 and 20 Republicans. Up to thirty-five Republicans can vote against Boehner without upsetting his hold on the speaker’s podium.

At 1:34pm EST CNN, reports that more than 20 Republican senators did vote against Boehner.

Fifteen House Republicans said they would campaign for John Boehner to be defeated in his bid for third term as speaker of the House, which is not enough on its own. 2013, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash voted for Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador for speaker and he posted to facebook that he would “vote for a new speaker.”

Almost no one believed that the two declared candidates – Gohmert and Florida Rep. Ted Yoho – would be the next speaker; however the anti-Boehner contingent feels if they could push the election to a second ballot, which would happen if the Speaker is not reelected on the first vote,  they could sweep Boehner aside and find a new speaker.

Boehner’s allies, including that GOP leadership group, have said they will keep voting for Boehner until the opposition subsides so the hopes for a compromise, even though public sentiment seems to sway against Boehner, is slight.  Voting members that have stated their wish to see Boehner out include Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, Iowa Rep. Steve King, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones and freshman Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer. reports that opposition to Boehner included:

  • Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), who originally signaled he would vote for Boehner, will oppose him, he announced — he voted for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in 2013. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) joined the “no” list on Tuesday morning.
  • Florida Rep. Curt Clawson, who replaced Trey Radel after he was arrested for cocaine possession, will also vote against Boehner.
  • Texas Rep. Randy Weber, who voted for Boehner in 2013, said he would throw his support behind his fellow Texan, Rep. Louie Gohmert. )

“Let’s all get behind Judge Louie Gohmert for Speaker!” Weber wrote on Twitter. “He has my vote! He’s not afraid to take the fight to the president & his veto pen!”

  • Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie told reporters he planned to work Monday night to deny Boehner’s re-election.

Democrats not present today include those in  Manhattan attending Mario Cuomo’s funeral Tuesday with others planning to skip the vote. Every Democrat who skips the speaker vote helps lower the threshold for Boehner to be reelected.

“I’m not the whip on their side but my presumption is that the speaker is going to prevail and I think the speaker, like any leader, has to deal with any factions in his party, some of which who are more cooperative than others,” Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters on Tuesday morning. “You see in the Republican Party a very hardline, ideological rigidity.”

Boehner retaining the podium could mean a continuation of the “old-white men’s club”, that will be led in the 114th Congress by Boehner and Mitch McConnel (R-KY) who replaces Harry Reid (D-NV) and which might not be the best foretelling of a strong Republican future.

Unless Boehner is smart enough to recognize that strong opposition means that he needs to be a different leader than he has been in the past. Hope, like a new Congress, springs eternal.

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