Boehner wins a second term—but can he control his caucus?

Updated
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio being greeted by colleagues on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday after surviving a roll call vote in the newly...
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio being greeted by colleagues on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday after surviving a roll call vote in the newly...
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

John Boehner can breathe a sigh of relief. He won’t have to give up his gavel, having secured a second term as Speaker of the House on Thursday.

But the Ohio Republican isn’t without his problems or detractors. Indeed, nine Republicans frustrated with Boehner’s leadership voted against him, with some giving the nod instead to Tea Party favorite Allen West (who is no longer in Congress) or House Minority Leader Eric Cantor.

Some predicted Boehner would get the boot or face an all-out revolt after caving on taxes as part of the catastrophe-averting fiscal cliff deal. That came after an episode last month in which Boehner was embarrassingly forced to cancel a vote on his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff by increasing taxes on Americans making more than $1 million a year. He simply did not have the votes.

And most recently, he drew ire from his party when he cancelled an expected vote on aid for regions devastated by Hurricane Sandy. (Boehner eventually bowed to pressure and rescheduled the vote).

So now that Boehner has won a second term as House Speaker, does it mean his caucus will fall into line behind him? Or will he be marginalized and continue to face revolts from the rebellious conservatives and Tea Party faction in his chamber?

“He’s going to have a tough time,” Robert Costa of the National Review told Hardball on Thursday night, noting “a lot of disarray on the House floor” during the vote. The vote shows Boehner “is going to have a very tough time moving forward, controlling his caucus…Many of them are willing to vote against him.”

The “next 12 months could be productive,” notes an editorial in the Register-Guard in Oregon. “Boehner needs to acknowledge that he no longer leads a disciplined and united caucus that can pass difficult legislation on its own.” The piece notes that a majority of House GOPers refused to support fiscal cliff legislation that called for a tax hike on the wealthiest Americans. Boehner “needed Democratic votes to offset Republican defectors, some of whom would not support him as speaker. Yet on Thursday, Boehner said he will no longer negotiate directly with Obama on legislation—a position that at worst promises gridlock, and at best makes McConnell leader of congressional Republicans.”

Expect a “tough governing road ahead” for Boehner, says theWashington Post’s Greg Sargent. Boehner will largely be left with little power since he’s done negotiating with Obama. His shoes could be filled by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. “The negotiating dynamic is no longer going to be one where Obama and Boehner will try to work something out,”  Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein told Sargent. “It will start with negotiations between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell.

“Better late than never,” writes John Hinderaker at The Power Line, referencing Boehner’s decision to stop negotiating secret, closed-door deals with Obama. This will benefit the GOPer because “rather than taking the Democrats off the hook with jointly sponsored back-room deals, the GOP should proceed through open, transparent processes.”

Boehner will come back better than ever, Kevin Madden, a former Boehner aide, claimed to the Washington Post. “Is he taking a hit right now? Yes,” he said.  “But even the members voting ‘no’ on the agreement who also may not publicly support John privately appreciate his effort…He’s going to get right back up, get back into the huddle and get his team ready for the next play.”

Boehner wins a second term—but can he control his caucus?

Updated