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With Speakership on Line, Should Boehner Rest Easy?

The key isn't disgruntled Republicans so much as a lack of speakers-in-waiting in the wings.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

January 2, 2013 - 1:52 pm
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The House Republican caucus in November tabbed Boehner as its candidate for a second two-year term in the speaker’s office. A vote of the full House, including Democrats, comes Thursday with the GOP majority guaranteed to prevail.

Regardless, it’s unlikely the derision that follows Boehner will subside anytime soon. Despite a solidly right-of-center voting record during his 22 years in Congress he is persistently criticized for insufficient dedication to conservative orthodoxy, criticism that grew louder with his vote in favor of the Senate’s fiscal cliff deal last night.

The rumblings became audible in early December when the Republican Steering Committee, under Boehner’s control, ousted Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) from the House Financial Services Committee and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) from the House Budget Committee. Sources maintain the quartet expressed insufficient fealty to the speaker.

Boehner was criticized for his fiscal cliff negotiations with the White House, particularly when he agreed to an income tax rate increase for the wealthy. Unable to strike a deal with President Obama, he offered up his own solution, Plan B, in an effort to avoid a hike for most taxpayers. In a stinging rebuke, the GOP caucus refused to follow his lead and the proposal crashed without coming to a vote.

And on Tuesday he voted in support of the fiscal cliff plan wrangled out between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). That package, opposed by Cantor, raised the tax rate on households earning $450,000 and more a year. Most House Republicans split with the speaker and voted against it.

After adjourning late Tuesday without a vote on the Senate’s Hurricane Sandy relief package, New York Republican Peter King angrily threatened to not vote for Boehner.

“He walked off the floor. He refused to tell us why, refused to give us any indication of warning whatsoever. Eric Cantor, he met with us through the week. He’s the one who devised the strategy as to how we would bring it to the floor to make it acceptable,” King said on CNN.

“As far as I’m concerned my world turned upside down last night, so I am right now holding every vote in abeyance,” he said when asked about what his vote for speaker would be.

Boehner subsequently had a change of heart. “Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations,” the speaker and Cantor said in an afternoon joint statement. “The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15th, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.”

“Met with Speaker Boehner & he pledges to bring $60B Sandy aid bill to the floor by January 15. Very positive result,” a placated King tweeted.

The GOP caucus is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. today.

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Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.
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