A deputy majority whip in the House branded the challenges to John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) speakership as an attack on the Republican caucus as a whole.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) noted on MSNBC this morning that on Nov. 13, after Republicans cruised to an even stronger majority in midterm elections, the House GOP caucus re-elected the leadership team with no opposition.
The only change was Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), who won the Republican Policy Committee chairman over Reps. Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Rob Woodall (Ga.) on a second ballot. Boehner and the rest of the team won with only “one or two” opposition votes to Boehner in the voice vote, according to a source in the room.
“I don’t think they’re very serious. And frankly, they’re pretty disappointing in the sense that any of these people that wanted to run could have run in the conference elections and none of them did,” Cole said. “So by going out and not voting for the conference choice, you’re not attacking John Boehner.”
“You’re really attacking the Republican Congress that you say you’re part of. So I find it, frankly… unprofessional and very disappointing.”
Cole said Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) “unquestionably” should stay in leadership after it was revealed he spoke in 2002 at a conference hosted by David Duke’s organization.
“Look, I think Steve is the first to say that being there was a mistake. It’s not even certain that he realized what the group was at the time, a long time ago, six years before he was in Congress. And I’ve seen no pattern of that. I’ve known Steve since he arrived in 2008 — terrific guy, a great member,” he said. “And look, when you’ve got Democrats rising to your defense, like Cedric Richmond did, that’s pretty impressive. So I think it’s, pretty much, a flash in the pan and over with.”
Cole said a “very productive” lame-duck session set the stage for returning to regular order in the 114th Congress.
“I think you saw both sides work together on the large spending bill that kept most of government funded through next year. You know, you saw in the House about 160 or 170 Republicans, about 60 Democrats,” he said.
“So on big deals that are compromises, I think that coalition had already been outlined for us. And so we can do that going forward. We still have a divided government. And what our folks needs to remember is the president still has a veto pen. He has more than enough votes in both chambers to sustain those vetoes.”