House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is widely seen as an unusually weak Speaker because his ostensible followers routinely ignore him. Boehner has no meaningful legislative accomplishments after three years with the Speaker’s gavel in large part because he’s found it difficult to legislate with far-right members who have no use for his attempts at leadership.
Indeed, when Boehner sought a second term as Speaker last year – a vote that was supposed to be a foregone conclusion – his margin on victory was narrow enough to cause some intra-party heartburn.
But Boehner continues to muddle through, passing no bills, occasionally shutting down the government, and watching assorted extortion plots fall apart, all while overseeing a restless caucus that tells him not to govern, compromise, or any concessions on any issue, ever.
National Journal’s Tim Alberta reports today that this may not last much longer.
Several dozen frustrated House conservatives are scheming to infiltrate the GOP leadership next year – possibly by forcing Speaker John Boehner to step aside immediately after November’s midterm elections.The conservatives’ exasperation with leadership is well known. And now, in discreet dinners at the Capitol Hill Club and in winding, hypothetical-laced email chains, they’re trying to figure out what to do about it.
There are reportedly competing options, but the most “audacious” move would look to oust Boehner from his post at the end of this Congress. According to the organizers of this far-right contingent, 40 to 50 far-right House Republicans would commit to electing a new Speaker, which would deny Boehner the GOP support he’d need for another term.
The same article added that “the masterminds of this mutiny are trying to stay in the shadows for as long as possible,” though if they’re talking to National Journal about their possible plot, they’re obviously not making too great an effort.
The obvious question, then, is how serious a threat this might be.
The scheme is reportedly being hatched by members of the “House Liberty Caucus” – Michigan’s Justin Amash, Idaho’s Raul Labrador, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, among others – which makes sense given that this same group worked to defeat Boehner at the start of this Congress early last year.
But their track record isn’t great. Indeed, these same GOP lawmakers seemed pretty confident about beating Boehner last January, right before they realized their count wasn’t as reliable as they thought. This same faction seems to think it has 40 to 50 members lined up, but whether they actually have that kind of support is unclear.
What’s more, no one seems to know who’d replace Boehner. The next Republican in line is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), but the far-right is annoyed with him, too, especially after his ham-fisted handling of the recent “doc fix” vote. One possible scenario would elevate Cantor, but force him to embrace a new member of the leadership chosen by right-wing members.
Of course, this behind-the-scenes drama is interesting on its own, but it also has practical, real-world consequences: if House GOP leaders are worried about a far-right rebellion, the likelihood of Congress approving any major legislation for the rest of the year is roughly zero.