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. bcrunner

    Between him and Cantor, I'll take the weeping guy... At least he gives us a laugh because he is a joke after all..

    January 3, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. MacInBlack1970

    And so the market indicators tick down upon the news of ol' bonehead Bhoener's re-election!

    AWESOME JOB CONGRESS! KEEP UP THE EASY WORK!

    January 3, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Hogan's Goat

    "My American dream is that the Government should take care of me!!" Right, and run your life too. No thanks. The govt should help people who NEED help and leave the rest of us alone.

    January 3, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. Reese

    Widow- I feel sorry for people that dont understand how a country truly works! If YOU actually read history books and bills, legislature that passes you will see that our current president is having a hard time correcting what is wrong. Putting money back into jobs in america and infrastructure is what really drives our economy. Taxing the extremely wealthy is COMMON SENSE (unfortunately at this point). Say what you want about our current president and even the last president. OUR country has been leading up to this point for decades. We will overcome this as we have overcome insurmountable odds throughout our countries history. It is only the people of this country that can right this ship. I hope you dont take offense to what i say but to see that its not just our generation that has put us in this hole.

    January 3, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. AugustWest

    Congratulations, Mr. Boehner. I hope the 112th is better than the last.

    January 3, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Give me a break!!! More of Boehner!!!!! Geez what's with you guys!!!!! Nobody else want the job or what???? Shame on all of you

    January 3, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. Sam

    And did anyone notice Speaker Boehner wife, she has the same dark, false tan skin that he does. It must rub off each other.

    January 3, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Hogan's Goat

    " Dems and media can complain all you want, but he has been representing the way he is supposed to. "

    Are you serious? You must have slept through the last three days.The GOP hates him too.

    January 3, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I am waiting for the millionaires of this nation to start an exodus from the United States at any time now"

    Yeah. Me too. It's what keeps me up at night - worrying when they'll leave, that is. Haven't had a good nights sleep since, oh, I don't know ... twenty years or so ... worrying about the poor millionaires, and where they're headed.

    January 3, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. ObservantHistorian

    NUFFSAID – the millionaires have been making out like bandits in this country, with phenomenal percentages increases in income and tax breaks, while the poor and middle-class have remained stagnant for years. If they begin an exodus overseas, it will be to follow the jobs they've sent overseas that are the primary reason – not deficits, not immigrants, not poor people failing to make enough to pay federal income tax – our economy is in the state it is, and a big reason their incomes grow while the working people's incomes stagnate or decline. If you don't agree with Democrats....well, they get on my nerves sometimes too. But voting or supporting so-called "conservatives" if you care about jobs and the economy? That's just mindless.

    January 3, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. zizewitz

    The debt an ""anchor block"" for the American dream???

    The debt is by far not a critical problem, even if it must be long term addressed. It certainly is not an anchor block for the rest of the world, which is standing in line buying US Government bonds and notes, even if the interest reward is nearly not existent, both showing the confidence in the economy and the Dollar.

    And of course, the US debt by person is one of the 1st world large countries lowest

    The out off proportion concern regarding the debt was and is am taking point promoted by the GOP for electoral purposes, a very hypocritical strategy of an organization which president is one of the main culprit that itreached the present magnitude, further supported by their refusal to address the latter by inccreasing the revenue level which even after a sharp increase, will be still one of the lowest between the captioned countries!!

    The REAL task is continue to improve the economy, which will in turn increase employment, income and consequentially tax revenue, curing progressively the deficit and debt issues, And of course, as the European Union and the Bush tax cuts glaringly show, to implant "austerity and stimulus for the rich" now would only have the opposite effect

    Mr. President: remain on course and refuse to be blackmailed with a collective massive hara-kiri debt ceiling menace, resolving the latter issue by executive order as between other BILL CLINTON, TIMOTHY GETHNER and on the bloggorphere Oton Tisch promote

    January 3, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. v_mag

    New nickname for J.B.: Sonny Boo Hoo.

    January 3, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. DFZ

    Well, I guess you can't have a circus without a clown. It'll just be more of same; the same puppetmasters with their collective hand up Boehner's fundament.

    January 3, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. vic

    More Boehner!?! Great!!! Now we can get even more of that job-creating legislation through the House. Because, as he said back in 2010, that'll be the Republican focus! And the leadership that he showed during the run-up to the Fiscal Cliff? Incredible!!! A true statesman! Reserve a place on Mount Rushmore for this giant among men. Can't wait to observe his leadership on the coming debt-ceiling debate! I'm sure it will be well thought-out and selfless, putting the stability of the nation's credit and the best interests of the American people first...as the conservatives ALWAYS do!

    Nice going Congress...way to live up to that approval rating!

    January 3, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. Jacqueline Miles

    Sad. At least 14 Republicans saw him in his true light. Go home Boehner. Western OH needs you.

    January 3, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. Joe B

    With Al Gore selling Current TV to a terrorist news organization you will need to keep your arms. The liberals have sold out to a terrorist news organization. Would we expect anything else from these loonietoons... Gore net 100M on the deal. So much for protecting American interests. Liberals put cash and the destruction of America before anything else.

    Our President should have blocked this deal.

    January 3, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. Trev

    Words words words, blah blah blah. Slander slander slander. Whine whine whine.

    January 3, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. tsrgp

    No one on capital hill can get fired , no matter how inept they are, unless they get caught with their mistress......

    January 3, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. demogoat

    Congrads to the Speaker, I mean weeper. Today marks a historic day for our 113th congress as it seems it is doomed to fail us all.

    January 3, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Wilson

    @Inkin

    why do we let the GOP continue to help the rich at the expense of the poor and needy?
    What is wrong with these people? they are as inhumane, greedy, cruel, and as unamerican as can be!
    the only explanation must be, besides their selfishness and hypocrisy, is that they are being paid off by
    Big interests in far greater amounts than we imagine.
    -----------------------------–
    If the "poor and needy" are physically capable of working, then they can get a bloody job!!!

    January 3, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  21. noteasilyswayed

    After all the b.s. and threats, the majority of Republicans just went right back to elect the same old weeper to the post of Speaker..... so nothing will change much, except that the House has lost a few more Republican votes and so has the Senate..... expect the partisanship to continue and little or no progress in solving the long term problems of the USA.

    January 3, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Sean

    Meh, he's a d-bag, but it could have been worse. Could have been a tea-bagger.

    January 3, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. phearis

    @Getoverit

    Less than half apparently, he won re-election. *wink*

    January 3, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Sheila

    @ Nuffsaid – those millionaires would not be millionaires if they were in another country. We (us middle class ppl ) are the ones that put them there, and the mid class in other countries won't let them get by with that.

    January 3, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. Rufis

    This will insure that there are no republicans left in Congress, after the 2016 elections.

    January 3, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
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