Politico ran a piece this morning asserting “Boehner’s future as speaker in doubt.”
“The Republican leader faces a grueling next few months, and even allies believe this will be his last term atop the GOP conference,” is the article’s subhead.
Could we be seeing the last of John Boehner?
With anti-establishment fervor at all-time high (see: presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ascension in the polls), it’s no surprise Boehner is standing on fragile ground with the speaker’s gavel. Grassroots Republicans are sick of the GOP’s “failure theater” and superficial efforts to push an agenda supported by center-right voters while choosing to push the agenda of the GOP’s donor class instead.
“That’s a personal decision he has to make. I don’t know why he would want to, personally,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), when asked whether Boehner would run again. “But I do think that he feels, in his heart of hearts, he feels like he’s doing what’s best for this country — regardless of what the political consequences are. That says something about somebody.”
And Politico interviewed lawmakers who characterize Boehner’s situation in a sympathetic light. “Caught between an intractable right flank and a Democratic president, they say he’s managed to get a remarkable amount done.”
But consider what he faces this fall: a quixotic but determined fight to defund Planned Parenthood, a potential government shutdown, a deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling or risk default, and a contentious showdown over highway spending. Boehner’s aides say they expect a vote to oust him, formally known as a motion to vacate the chair.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who drafted the resolution to vacate the chair back in July, will not back down from trying to oust Boehner once Congress returns to session. “Top lawmakers and aides in leadership expect Meadows or another Boehner antagonist to try and force a vote before the end of the year on whether to keep Boehner as speaker.”
Perhaps Boehner will not even have the option to run again as speaker of the House.
With the contentious issue of Planned Parenthood funding looming and Boehner (and McConnell) hell-bent on avoiding a government shutdown, it looks like conflicting sides are headed for a collision course.
“The first pressure point is coming soon. Government funding runs dry at the end of September, and conservatives are threatening to oppose any budget bill that continues to fund Planned Parenthood. That is the leading priority of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of 30 or so conservatives that tries to drag leadership to the right.”
Boehner allies continue to downplay the threat. “Look, no question they’re looking at a challenging fall,” said David Schnittger, a top aide to Boehner for 21 years who now works at Squire Patton Boggs. “By the same token, these guys aren’t strangers to challenging situations. What lies ahead looks challenging, but it also looks kind of familiar. Boehner’s in the second half of his fifth year as speaker. Having been there for four of those five years, it seemed like every few months there was a new ‘test.’”
Buckle up: September is sure to be a wild ride in Congress.