Boehner re-elected House speaker
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was reelected on a 220 to 192 vote by his colleagues Thursday despite last minute grumblings that opposition from within his own party would derail the embattled politician as retribution for his leadership on controversial issues including the recent fiscal cliff deal.
Rumors spread by a fledgling conservative group, on social network sites and talk radio claimed Boehner would be deposed. However, only nine Republicans voted for someone other than Boehner – 16 Republican votes were needed to block his reelection.
Democrats nominated House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to oppose Boehner for the speaker’s chair. She received 192 votes from Democrats.
Boehner ran unopposed within his own party, contrary to speculation that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) might challenge him for the position. Just prior to the vote, Cantor told CNN that Boehner would “absolutely” be reelected. Cantor voted against the fiscal cliff deal, which raised taxes on a majority of Americans, but he voted for Boehner for speaker.
However, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told Human Events after the vote that “arm twisting” on Boehner’s behalf was “very intense” with threats that Republicans would lose plum committee assignments or campaign donations from the National Republican Congressional Committee if they opposed the speaker’s reelection.
Huelskamp is one of four Republican lawmakers who lost key committee assignments recently for reportedly voting against issues that were important to Boehner.
“The intimidation and pressure was intense, there are a lot of people that wanted to vote no and today, the last call, the last twisting of arms, convinced them not to do that,” Huelskamp said.
“And certainly my vote was one of no confidence. I want conservative leadership, and that has not been provided by the speaker,” Huelskamp said.
Asked specifically who was intimidated to cast their votes for Boehner, Huelskamp declined to name names.
Huelskamp did add that one freshman lawmaker was called prior to the vote and told their committee seat was “probably gone if you vote your conscience.”
Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.) also lost a committee assignment, but has since patched up his differences with the speaker and voted for Boehner.
The speaker of the House does not have to be an elected member to serve. The handful of Republicans who opposed Boehner cast votes for former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), Cantor, and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), while some Democrats voted for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell instead of Pelosi.
Following the vote, Boehner fought back tears as he told the packed House that the oath of office they were all preparing to take made no mention of party politics, factions, agendas or platforms.
“This covenant makes us servants of posterity,” Boehner said. “It calls us to refuse the pull of passing interests and follow the fixed star of a more perfect union. Put simply, we are sent here not to be something, but to do something – to do the right thing. It’s a big job, and it comes with big challenges,” Boehner said.
“At $16 trillion and rising, our national debt is draining free enterprise and weakening the ship of state. The American dream is in peril so long as its namesake is weighed down by this anchor of debt. Break its hold, and we begin to set our economy free. Jobs will come home. Confidence will come back,” Boehner said.
“So if you have come here to see your name in lights or to pass off political victory as accomplishment, you have come to the wrong place. The door is behind you,” Boehner said.
“If you have come here humbled by the opportunity to serve; if you have come here to be the determined voice of the people; if you have come here to carry the standard of leadership demanded not just by our constituents but by the times, then you have come to the right place,” Boehner said.