January 3rd, 2013
01:39 PM ET
2 years 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. none

    Boehner for president...LOL

    January 3, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. reasonablebe

    too bad. the man has no courage and cannot make a hard decision if his own power will be threatened. the gop needs to toss out the tea party, make them a 3rd party and then congress can govern moderately by coalitions for the various needs and causes addressed.

    January 3, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. just sayin

    Nice picture of Nancy holding onto the Boehner. I'm sure he pronounces it "Bayner" for a reason.

    January 3, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Are you kidding

    @Rosslaw I guess you were unaware that this republican congrees has passed over 30 jobs bills and they are stuck on Harry Reids desk, becuse he is to stupid to bring them up for a vote.

    January 3, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. doug

    dang! just when i thought there was a chance to get rid of the clown obstructionist that he is..an embarassment for the GOP to say the least..which perhaps in the long run is a good thing assuming the electorate wakes up!

    January 3, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Voter

    Pelosi has never held that large a wood in her hands before.

    January 3, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. Fed Up with Washington

    What is being missed is that whenever any one of our elected officials speak (and they love to pontificate in front of a microphone / camera and audience) they cost us, the taxpayers, money out of pocket. Once elected they are no longer beholden to their electorate but rather the large donors / lobbyists pulling their puppet strings. Getting them to act in the best interests of the majority of the country is simply impossible be they a Democrat or Republican. Once in office, it is not part of their DNA.

    January 3, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. callmecrazy

    Why does the term "self inflicted wound" come to mind? I guess it's only fitting that the idiots that got voted in by misinformed voters elect an ineffectual leader.

    January 3, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. Matt

    This POS should be kicked out, not rewarded. This jerk only cares about himself and what he can get for himself. He has no morals or ethics, this POS puts his ego before this great country.

    And the republicans wonder how they are getting a bad name. How about acting like humans?

    January 3, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. Tonyh110

    Nobody wants that job except maybe Pelosi – then she'd have the Whitehouse and Senate backing her. If Boehner had held out and we'd have gone over this magical cliff Washington invented then he'd be getting labled the Right Wing loon who selfishly took us over the Fiscal cliff. So now he's the spineless goon who gave into Obama. He's in a rock and a hard place. Its DEmocrats and Republicans together – Washington – who are to blame THEY together are screwing only one group 'We the People'

    January 3, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. al

    So we are going to get two more years at least of weak leadership and a failure to govern just like we have had since the day he was first elected speaker. I had high hopes for Boehner but he has proven to be a failure. I didn't like Pelosi but would take her back in a heartbeat. At least she got things done.

    January 3, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. allenwoll

    .
    No !, NO ! ! N-O ! ! ! - Mr Boehner - YOU LIE - It is NOT debt that is primarily killing the American Dream ! ! !
    .
    RATHER, it is our Hyper-Greedy, DIS-Loyal and our HIGH-Treasonous American Capitalists (Mostly GoPers, by the way) who are DELIBERATELY destroying the American Dream ! ! ! . (AND eventually themselves right along in the long run ! ! ) .
    .
    They have done and are doing this by sending our Industrial Economy overseas, thus depriving our Consumers of jobs and thereby created the inability of those Consumers to purchase goods (no matter how cheaply produced overseas) and to meet their financial credit obligations - Driving the Nation into DEBT ! ! !
    .
    There are some people who desperately need to be HANGED ! ! !
    .
    Mr Obama can NOT reverse these crimes without cooperation, which YOU refuse ! ! !
    .

    January 3, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Earthling

    No surprise here. Republicans are incapable of changing their minds on anything.

    January 3, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. flatpicker

    If america keeps these same idiots in office next election it will really show how stupid we are. Our politicians have driven this country into the ground. The worst part is we keep relecting the same idiots like Pelosi, Reed and Beohner. What is California thinking ? Our country is so screwed. They say they put in all these hours over the holidays for what ? To save us from some fiscal cliff. All i know is my family now pays $227 a month more this year in payroll taxes than it did last year. Fire every one of those idiots!

    January 3, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Big job with big challenges.

    January 3, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. KC

    The only people that are impedeing our American Dream is our ENTIRE GOVERNMENT. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION.

    January 3, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. hi

    My American dream is that the Government should take care of all americans, not just lazy poor and stupid looser!

    January 3, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Big job,with big difficulties.

    January 3, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. RSVP

    Headline – John Boehner says debt is imperiling the American Dream.

    I say the Tea Party is imperiling the House of Representatives.

    January 3, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    "Do your own fact checking and research.. Then post a comment."

    Says the "widow" who babbled FOX News taking points as research.

    January 3, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. ShawnDH

    Republicans always manage to make me proud to be a liberal and a Democrat.

    January 3, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    This disgusting pig should be declared an enemy of the state and executed.

    January 3, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. socalpimp

    Its amazing how many unemployed Democrats have the time to post during work hours...Go get a job

    January 3, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. ShawnDH

    Andrew whined: "My American dream is that the Government should take care of me!"
    ____________________

    Cute. Nobody thinks that. But I bet you have no problem with the government forcing women to give birth against their will or dictating who is allowed to marry whom. Your American Dream is an oppressive and intrusive government.

    January 3, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Tim

    I really hope we get to see him ball his eyes out again I could really use a laugh

    January 3, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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