In a move that has reportedly taken Republican leaders completely by surprise, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) late Tuesday afternoon filed a motion to try to force Speaker John Boehner from his leadership post.
Meadows was one of four conservative House Republicans disciplined by Boehner in June for “voting against the party” on trade legislation.
At the time, when contacted by Roll Call, the North Carolina Republican declined to comment.
That was then, this is now:
The resolution states that Boehner has tried to “consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 members of Congress and the people they represent.” It accuses the speaker of using the “legislative calendar to create crises for the American people, in order to compel members to vote for legislation.”
The resolution also blasts Boehner of using the Rules Committee to limit amendments.
According to Politico, fellow conservatives have already contacted Meadows to tell him that the move to oust Boehner right now is not a good idea.
Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), fierce and frequent critics of leadership, thought the move was ill-advised. Some of Meadows’ friends didn’t even see it coming. But just before 6 p.m. Tuesday — a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess recess — Meadows offered a motion to vacate the chair, an extraordinarily rare procedural move that represents the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner’s speakership. If the motion passed — most Republicans say it will be hard to cobble together the votes — Boehner would be stripped of the speaker’s gavel, potentially plunging the House of Representatives into chaos.
According to the Washington Post, Meadows said that he won’t press for a vote before Congress leaves town for the August recess.
But in a talk-radio interview Tuesday night, Meadows predicted the House GOP leadership would call lawmakers and drum up a Wednesday vote to save Boehner.
“They will call most of the members tonight and try to bring this up and have a vote on it tomorrow [Wednesday],” Meadows told host Mark Levin, admitting that tactic was only one that Boehner’s team could employ.
“These will be very difficult days. It will not come without retribution and that’s to be understood.”
Meadows has until now taken small steps to undermine the speaker, but with this motion, he has declared “all-out war.”
The problem the congressman is going to have going forward is finding a respected candidate who is effective, can unite warring factions, and who wants the job.
There were unsuccessful efforts in 2013 and 2015 to oust Boehner from his leadership post. In 2013, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) led the effort which came close to having enough votes to be successful. But as Labrador said in a statement, “at the last minute, several members changed their votes to support Boehner.”