January 3rd, 2013
01:39 PM ET
1 year ago

Boehner re-elected speaker in midst of public defections

Washington (CNN) – Rep. John Boehner was re-elected Speaker of the House Thursday.

But after roughly a dozen of his own colleagues voted for someone else or withheld their vote to protest his leadership, the Ohio Republican begins his second term tasked with leading a conference that isn't shy about bucking him.

In total, 220 Republicans out of a conference of 234 supported the Ohio Republican during the tension-filled vote on the House floor.

There were a few scattered votes for other names. GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor, frequently mentioned as a potential rival, received votes from three House Republicans. But when Cantor's name was called, he stood and loudly yelled Boehner's name – a show of unity amidst the defections.

(See the bottom of this post for a full list of Republicans who declined to vote for Boehner)

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and Georgia Republican Paul Broun voted for defeated Rep. Allen West, the tea party favorite from Florida.

Michigan Republican Justin Amash cast his vote for Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, but when Labrador's name was called by the House clerk, he remained silent, showing his unhappiness with Boehner's leadership by abstaining.

Amash, who was recently removed by GOP leaders from the Budget Committee, reached out to urge other critics of Boehner to vote for someone else in the hopes of pushing the speaker vote to second ballot.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, sat front-and-center in the House chamber, but didn't respond when his name was called either, as members of the press gallery spotted him from their vantage point inside the chamber. Both he and Labrador also remained on the floor the second time the House Clerk called their names to give them another chance to vote, but they didn't answer.

Freshman Texas Rep. Steve Stockman was the sole member to vote "present" – another public show of criticism for Boehner.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who has been increasingly critical of Boehner since the speaker supported his removal from the House Budget Committee, told CNN he was casting a vote against Boehner based on "past performance."

Huelskamp stood and voted for conservative Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who voted for Boehner.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, who was clearly still annoyed at the speaker after his slot on the House Financial Services Committee was taken away, went along with Amash's strategy, and voted for GAO Comptroller David Walker.

Amash wasn't pressing his fellow Republicans to get behind a particular candidate, but tried to round up enough votes for others "to see what other opportunities we might have," Jones told reporters outside the House chamber.

House GOP aides insist that they were prepared for some defections, but not enough to add up to a serious challenge to Boehner. But even though there wasn't any one viable alternative candidate who could topple the current speaker, the mini rebellion signaled that Boehner's ability to lead his GOP conference would remain a challenge going forward.

The small number of defections amounted to a tiny percentage, but it was still the largest number opposing the re-election of a House speaker in recent history.

Soon after Boehner was sworn in to the newly convened 113th Congress, he had a direct message for his colleagues about their role as lawmakers.

"We are sent here not to be something, but to do something - to do the right thing," he said, appearing emotional from the podium in the House chamber. "It's a big job, and it comes with big challenges."

Boehner also addressed the nation's massive federal debt, saying it was placing the well-being of the country in peril. Despite furious negotiations with President Barack Obama last year, and again in recent weeks as they worked to avert the fiscal cliff, Boehner was unable to develop a so-called "grand bargain" to reduce the national debt.

Despite those past challenges, Boehner told lawmakers it was their job to ensure progress gets made.

"Public service was never meant to be an easy living," he told his House colleagues. "Extraordinary challenges demand extraordinary leadership. 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."

The rocky finish of the 112th Congress had many of those going into the Thursday vote question whether Boehner's future might be in jeopardy. In recent weeks he struggled to get his fellow Republicans to go along with proposals to avoid the fiscal cliff, and only secured 85 votes for the final deal that passed a day after the end-of-the-year deadline.

And the day before he was nominated to his second term Boehner suffered major backlash over his decision to put off a vote on a package of assistance for Superstorm Sandy victims for weeks. After withering criticism from GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on that call, Boehner relented and scheduled a vote on some of the emergency funding on Friday.

It's unclear whether there would be any repercussions for those who so openly broke with Boehner on the first day of the new session.

Amash told reporters he wasn't worried about his standing with GOP leaders, saying "I think Congress has been marginalized, American people deserve better."

Freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, said he wasn't concerned at all after casting one of his first votes – for Cantor – against his speaker.

"It is about, we lost seats in the house, we lost the Senate, we lost the presidency. I just thought it was time for new leadership. Hey, he won, he is the Republican guy and I am going to be all behind him," Bridenstine explained.

Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who has served more than 20 years in the House and told CNN he knows Boehner well and personally likes him, summed up the scene on the House floor during the vote as "weird."

But Hastings downplayed any permanent damage to Boehner, describing those who opposed the speaker as representing just a "fringe" element.

"Republicans are crazy, but they aren't all bats**t crazy," Hastings said.

– CNN's Dana Bash, Leslie Bentz and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

REPUBLICANS WHO DID NOT VOTE FOR BOEHNER:

Rep. Justin Amash voted for Raul Labrador
Rep. Jim Bridenstine voted for Eric Cantor
Rep. Paul Broun voted for Allen West
Rep. Louis Gohmert voted for West
Rep. Walter Jones voted for David Walker
Rep. Tim Huelskamp voted Jim Jordan
Rep. Tom Massie voted for Justin Amash
Rep. Steve Pierce voted for Cantor
Rep. Ted Yoho voted for Cantor

Rep. Steve Stockman voted present
Rep. Raul Labrador did not vote
Rep. Mick Mulvaney did not vote

soundoff (351 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Can't have a circus without a head clown.

    January 3, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. Matt Sewell

    Shamles. Our country is in shambles.

    January 3, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Boo

    Did he cry?

    January 3, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    sob, sob....."I'd like to thank all you fools that elected me back to this job..." sob sob. LET'S GO TO THE BAR!! I'M BUYING

    January 3, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. J sylvia

    John Boehner just re-elected. Good

    January 3, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. GT66

    Good to see these vermin take care of themselves above the needs of the country they were HIRED TO MANAGE.

    January 3, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Bill

    Amazing. Middle Class America loses their jobs when they work their tail off. These guys do less than the bare minimum and keep their job. WOW, says alot about this country. We are screwed.......

    January 3, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Searcher

    So, will the TEA-PARTY types calm down or will they continue their war against our government? I bet it's the latter.

    January 3, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Matt

    Why do Americans reward bad behavior?

    January 3, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. bob

    The people have spoken.

    January 3, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. abdula Oblongota

    Nothing like sending a message to the American people that NOTHING changes with the Republicans, Boerner is the best that they can come up with. We elect idiots into office, all of us. We deserve the government we receive.

    January 3, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. khalifa

    americans should have voted on this one.

    January 3, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. nba

    OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    What fools they are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Washington Is Out Of Touch with reality

    He lost any of my support when he sold out the American People and the USA to obama

    January 3, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. nba

    I bet everyone in the Northeast is happy!!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. John

    "Makes for good press doesn't it". No, it doesn't your antics only make us ALL look stupid.

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Well the GOP has sent a very clear message to the American People.

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. B.

    Too bad, they could do better...

    Guaranteed more shenanigans and grief from the Republicans, the worst in our history!

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. AP

    He should stick that thumb back up his butt where it's been the last year!

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. myviewis

    Excellent, he's a good, honest man who has shown to be worried for the future of our country and the crazy spending going on in DC.

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Geoff

    How can the American people lose any more faith in their government? Oh Wait! Its like a really bad sitcom about how terrible you can be at your job and not get fired.

    January 3, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. retwqaas

    So we just packing it in America? Just saying f it throw our hands in the air and just say "well we gave it a try". For f sakes people please educate your selves so we can avoid stuff like this again stop being loyal to parties and start picking people that want whats best for our country. If they even show the slightest sign of pandering to anyone besides the American public lets get them out of there this madness has gone on long enough time to put politicians as a whole at new standards.

    January 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    Congratulations!!!!

    January 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Kevin

    Good- Less Dems is always a positive

    January 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. bigoton

    He wasn't elected he was appointed by Grover. If Cantor remains where he is they're done. All of them

    January 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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