Are House Republicans about to get a new leader?
On Thursday, as the 113th Congress is sworn in, House members will convene to elect a speaker of the House.
Some conservatives are claiming change is in the air. House Republicans, reportedly, are dissatisfied with current Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has held the position since 2010. Boehner’s perceived failure in the recent fiscal cliff — agreeing to tax hikes and deep avoiding deficit-curbing spending cuts — negotiations cost him political capital and street cred among conservatives, especially the far-right Tea Party and libertarian contingent.
A change in congressional Republican leadership has implications for the strategy and priorities for Congress. If a more hard-line Republican gets voted into the speaker position, we could expect more friction between the House, President Obama, and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
But will Boehner lose?
A (highly unscientific) Drudge Report poll — a website which is among the biggest conservative voices in America — gave ominous signs about Boehner’s job security, with a vast majority of Drudge users calling for an end to Boehner’s term.
In an appearance on CNBC, American Majority Action spokesman Ron Meyer said there are more than 20 House Republicans willing to vote for someone other than Boehner. As Breitbart reports, Meyer and AMA correctly predicted Republican opposition to Boehner’s fiscal cliff “Plan B" and the overwhelming House Republican opposition to Vice President Joe Biden’s and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s fiscal cliff deal that passed the House on Tuesday evening.
The House of Representatives passed the fiscal cliff bill by a 257-167 vote, with Dems mostly backing the bill and one-third of Republicans in favor (151 of 236 Republicans in the House (64%) voted against the bill). The vote divided House GOP leaders, with the second- and third-ranking Republicans, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, among the 151 in their party voting no. Boehner, casting a rare vote, and Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 vice presidential nominee, voted in favor.
The final deal raises taxes for couples with taxable household income above $450,000, but does not resolve the big underlying issues: Obama and Congress have less than two months to work out agreements to raise the debt ceiling and address the budget cuts postponed in the bill.
Boehner is running unopposed to keep his job as House speaker for a second term, but the Ohio Republican’s reelection bid – the first vote of the 113th Congress, which convenes on Thursday – is nonetheless a churn of rumor and controversy.
It would take just 17 GOP dissenters to force a second ballot in Thursday’s 12:45 p.m. voice vote and force, perhaps, Boehner to withdraw his candidacy for reelection as speaker.