Congressmen Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) announced their intentions to challenge Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) in his re-election bid on Tuesday, January 6th.
Yoho made his announcement in a Facebook message on Saturday and said he was running to challenge the status quo.
“The American people have spoken loud and clear by their choice to elect conservative Representatives to serve them in Washington. It’s our turn now, as Members of the People’s House, to echo their demands by electing a new Speaker. The American people have allowed us to choose who is best suited to lead the House by electing a deep bench of diverse and qualified members. Our Republic is built on choice, and if needed, I would stand up to give our members that option,” Yoho stated.
Gohmert in a released statement on Sunday pointed to the passage of CRomnibus as an example of why the People’s Chamber needed new leadership.
“After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change. 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. There had been much discussion. But, until yesterday, no one had stepped up,” Gohmert said.
He noted that Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) also put his name forward. Gohmert said he could vote for Yoho, but he said had heard from many supporters and friends in Congress who asked him to run for a greater chance to change leadership in the House. Yoho first won election to the House in 2012 representing Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. Gohmert, who serves Texas’ First Congressional District, has been in Congress since 2005.
Gohmert addressed what he deemed “false information” that any additional Republican candidate running in addition to the current speaker could help Nancy Pelosi to win back the Speaker’s gavel. He stated only if 59 Republicans voted “present” would their be a chance for Republicans to win.
“At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate. It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November,” Gohmert added.
Yoho echoed that sentiment in his statement. “Our vote for a new Speaker is not a personal vote against Representative Boehner – it is a vote against the status quo. Our vote is a signal to the American people that we too, have had enough of Washington politics, and that we will stand with the American people. This is a renewed commitment of our Oath of Office, the people we represent, and the Constitution. In 2015, we will take America back, we will restore opportunity for every American, and we will rebuild America.”
A poll conducted after Christmas by Caddell Associates show that only 26% of Republicans want or “probably want” Boehner retained as Speaker of the House. 60% of Republicans said they want someone other than Boehner or “probably want” someone other than Boehner as Speaker.
Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) kicked off Congressional dissent against reelecting Boehner saying on Friday that he would not vote for Boehner. Pointing to the midterm elections he said Boehner didn’t seem to get the message that was sent.
“Like President Obama, Speaker Boehner must have heard voices that didn’t vote. Together they crafted the CR/Omnibus, a $1.1 trillion spending bill which funded the government for 10 months and blocked our newest elected Republicans from advancing conservative policy and delivering on campaign promises. With this vote, Republicans gave away the best tool available to rein in our liberal activist President: the power of the purse. The power of the purse is Congress’ Constitutional strength,” Bridenstine said in a released statement.
Matthew Boyle at Breitbart News points out what would be needed for Boehner to lose re-election as Speaker of the House on January 6th.
It’s absolutely normal for members to attempt to do this, too, as the Congressional Research Service has actually issued reports after every significant speakership election for years.
“Each new House elects a Speaker by roll call vote when it first convenes,” CRS wrote on Jan. 4, 2013, the day after the failed Boehner coup almost took down the Speaker. “Customarily, the conference of each major party nominates a candidate whose name is placed in nomination. Members normally vote for the candidate of their own party conference, but may vote for any individual, whether nominated or not. To be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of all the votes cast for individuals. This number may be less than a majority (now 218) of the full membership of the House, because of vacancies, absentees, or Members voting ‘present.’”
Throughout the report, it details the processes necessary for a Speaker to get elected. Then it notes how in recent years, more and more members have been willing to buck their own leadership—a trend that has been commonplace throughout U.S. history, especially in the pre-World War II 1900s.
“In 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2011, and 2013, at least one Member voted for a Member of their own party who was not that party’s official nominee,” CRS wrote. “These events seem to manifest a new pattern of behavior in elections for Speaker. Votes cast for other candidates in these years seem more often to have reflected specific circumstances and events than established factions or identifiable political groupings Votes cast for other candidates in these years reflected specific circumstances and events, however, rather than established factions or even identifiable political groupings.”
It remains to be seen if a potential coup attempt—which Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) announced recently during a radio interview was being organized—will be any more successful than the last one. But if enough members hold together to get to that second or third or fourth ballot, it just might be.
Jones said he’s got 18 members together, and RedState’s Erick Erickson said while guest hosting Rush Limbaugh’s radio program recently that there were 25 members together at that point—a sign the rebellion may be growing. But because of the overwhelming Republican victories in the midterm elections, the House GOP majority has grown and more votes will be needed than last Congress to unseat Boehner. If all members of the House on inauguration day are present and voting for a person, the minimum amount of votes for someone other than Boehner necessary to force the second ballot and move to force him out of the speakership is 29 Republicans.
So 29 is the magic number on the first ballot which is not at all improbable. Rick Manning with Americans for Limited Government in an op/ed for The Hill on Friday also points out Boehner’s tenuous position:
Traditionally, the House is run by the majority political party, and a leadership team’s job is to put together legislation that can get 218 of their colleagues from the same party for passage.
This system has broken down under Boehner. In the aforementioned House funding bill, conservative hold-outs went to House leadership and offered a way to gain passage of the bill by moving to the right, rather than cutting deals with Democrats. The offer was rebuffed, and that ultimately may have serious ramifications for Boehner’s viability going into that first vote.
Now, Republicans dissatisfied with Boehner’s leadership don’t need to have a majority of votes in the conference to support an alternative; all they need to do is have enough votes to veto or blackball a specific candidate for Speaker whom they deem to be unacceptable.
Next week during the Speaker’s vote, if 29 Republicans decide that they will not vote for Boehner to continue as Speaker, he doesn’t get to be Speaker unless he convinces a Democrat to vote for him.
The question remains whether 29 House Republicans will inform the House Conference that they want a new vote for Speaker behind closed doors before the Jan. 6 floor vote to make it clear that Boehner does not have the votes to retain his post. If this occurs, the Boehner Speakership is over and the backroom deal-cutting begins.
There will be tremendous pressure on freshman House members, in particular, to join the push against Boehner. Groups like FreedomWorks have sent emails to their supporters urging a change. This is the most important vote that members of Congress take after being sworn in.
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe in a released statement on Saturday said, “With a growing Republican majority in the House and a historically high number of liberty-voting fiscal conservatives within it, there is an urgent need replace Speaker Boehner with fresh, bold leadership that better represents the views of the whole caucus.”
“Speaker Boehner has kicked fiscal conservatives off committee positions for voting against his wishes, caved on numerous massive spending bills at the eleventh hour, and abused the legislative process to stomp out opposition by holding surprise votes and giving members little time to actually read the bills before they vote,” Kibbe added. “An effective Speaker would be someone who leads through action, consistently doing what Republicans promised the American people they would do. We need someone willing to shake up the status quo.”
Three out of Iowa’s four members of Congress are Republican. We know that Congressman Steve King will not vote for Boehner after the op/ed he wrote Sunday on Breitbart News.
King wrote, “We need a Speaker who will help us all keep our oath, including his own, to the Constitution, not one who has consistently blocked our efforts to keep ours. I will vote for an alternative candidate for Speaker. I can’t vote for John Boehner again.”
Gohmert is a friend of Congressman Steve King (R-IA) and it is likely, though I don’t know for sure, that he was one of his congressional friends who encouraged him to run. Will Congressmen-elect David Young and Rod Blum join King in opposition to Boehner?
Young in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District replaces retiring Congressman Tom Latham. He had Speaker John Boehner campaign for him in the last days leading up to the election. It is uncertain how he will vote. Blum in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District could join a potential coalition against Boehner. With his ties to the liberty wing of the Republican Party it seems likely that he would prefer Gohmert or Yoho over Boehner for the Speaker’s gavel.
We will find out Tuesday just how widespread the discontent among the Republican members is.
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