While ousting John Boehner from the speaker’s office still remains a long shot, a growing number of conservative lawmakers in the House are saying they plan to support someone other than the Ohio Republican during this week’s vote.
The latest Republicans to announce plans to oppose Boehner are Indiana Rep. Martin Stutzman, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, Iowa Rep. Steve King and Virginia Rep. Dave Brat. That makes at least ten House Republicans who have publicly come out against Boehner’s re-election, with more expected Monday.
“After careful consideration, I have decided to vote for a new Speaker of the House,” Stutzman said Monday. “I have great respect for Speaker Boehner, for his time in office, and for the work we’ve done together. However, I do believe it is time to make a change.”
“Trust is a series of promises kept; my vote for new leadership reflects a promise I made to voters when they elected me,” Gosar said. “I cannot stand beside the same leadership that has offered up bills too large to read, used parliamentary tricks to bring bills to the floor and has refused to take swift action against the president and his administration’s unconstitutional actions.”
The official speaker’s election is set for Tuesday, when the House will convene for a public floor vote to open the new Congress.
While the vote is usually just a formality, the hope of the anti-Boehner bloc is for enough Republicans to deny Boehner a majority of the vote, forcing him out of the race. Under the rules, that would likely require about 30 Republicans voting for someone else.
Boehner aides say they are confident he will win. “Rep. Boehner was selected as the House Republican Conference’s choice for Speaker last month,” Boehner aide Michael Steel told The Daily Caller last week, “and he expects to be elected by the whole House next week.”
Gohmert on Sunday suggested the recent budget deal Boehner and other Republicans supported along with the White House has led conservatives to abandon the speaker.
“After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change,” Gohmert said Sunday. “There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message. However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership.”
“The American people have spoken loud and clear by their choice to elect conservative Representatives to serve them in Washington,” Yoho said Saturday, offering himself as a candidate for speaker. “It’s our turn now, as members of the people’s house, to echo their demands by electing a new Speaker.”
But while Gohmert and Yoho have stepped up to run against Boehner, neither really expect to win. The real hope from these defectors is to draw enough votes away from Boehner to stop him from winning a majority. Under that scenario, Republicans would then be forced to choose someone else to lead the body on a later ballot on Tuesday.
It’s not clear who that person would be, though everyone from South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling have been floated by conservatives in fantasy scenarios.
Sources tell TheDC it is possible other Republican lawmakers may jump in the race before Tuesday’s vote, in the hopes of hurting Boehner.
The effort to oust Boehner, while believed to be loosely organized, has been in the works for weeks. Shortly before Christmas, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones discussed the plot on a local radio show.
“Right now, I’ve been meeting with a small group, and we — about 16, 18 — and we’re hoping to have a name of a sitting member of Congress that we can call out their name,” Jones said.
Such an attempt was tried two years ago, but ultimately failed: a group of conservatives tried to overthrow Boehner during the public vote, but only nine conservatives, frustrated with Boehner’s leadership, ended up voting against him. Organizers of that effort said more people had committed to vote against Boehner beforehand, but backed out before the vote.
Part of the problem with the plan is the public nature of the vote — each House member stands up and calls out the name of the person they are supporting. Members that might be inclined to vote against Boehner have been afraid to do so out of fear that others will not follow through with their intentions.