A House Republican often at odds with John Boehner launched a bid Tuesday to kick the speaker of the House out of his job — an almost unheard-of rebellion but one that has been simmering for months.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, filed a motion to “vacate the chair” — a parliamentary maneuver that could be used to depose Boehner, R-Ohio.
The motion accuses Boehner of having “endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent,” and of using “the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”
That second charge is personal for Meadows, who went toe to toe with Boehner’s leadership team last month — and won.Meadows was stripped of his position as chairman of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee after he voted against a bill — backed by Boehner — to give President Barack Obama more authority to “fast track” trade initiatives. Meadows won back the job after House conservatives raised an uproar.
Meadows, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, has long been at odds with Boehner, whom he and others on the GOP’s right consider to be too accommodating to Obama. In January, he was one of 25 conservatives to vote against Boehner’s re-election as speaker.
Boehner, who is in his third term as speaker, had no comment Tuesday.
Meadows said Tuesday night that he hopes the motion never comes to a vote, saying he meant it as an “impetus” to begin a family discussion about changing the “punitive culture” of Congress.
“This comes down to one thing, and that is: Is the voice of the American people being heard? And that means every member of Congress should have the ability to have their voice and their vote heard without fear of retribution if they indeed are representing the people back home,” he said.
In March 1910, House members launched a surprise bid to unseat autocratic Speaker Joe Cannon, according to House historical records. After a marathon two-day session, Cannon himself forced the issue to a vote by moving to declare the chair vacant.
Cannon’s motion failed and he kept the speakership — essentially “winning” by losing — but his power was sharply diminished.
Meadows said he was prepared to take his lumps should Boehner retaliate.
“Can I be stripped of all other sorts of positions? The answer is yes — that’s the speaker’s prerogative,” he said.
But “if those are consequences, should they come, I will gladly accept them as consequences for my actions,” he said.