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. Mike D

    I wish I could be as incompetent as him and keep my job. How do you get one of those Speaker gigs anyway?

    January 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Leticia

    Disgusting

    January 3, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. DC

    So, our elected officials are just as stupid as their constituents, huh? Reelecting the same garbage over and over...sad, sad, sad.

    January 3, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. California Grandma

    We The People are NOT INTERESTED in making "good press", Mr. McCarthy. This is exactly what is wrong: everyone wants to make good press, but nothing gets done for the people. What a way to start the year.

    January 3, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. indianagal516

    those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it....they had an opportunity to get that arrogant idiot out of there, but, in true republican fashion, they didn't take the opportunity

    January 3, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Bastille Day

    Hear hear to Sniffet's comment.

    January 3, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. nba

    Re-elected Speaker of the House= YEAH?

    January 3, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. v_mag

    The story didn't say. Did Boehner break down and cry, as usual? Afterwards, did he grab a bottle of Scotch on the way to the tanning salon?

    January 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Paul

    Boehner is well known around many DC watering holes. I am sure he bought a few rounds to get his support for speaker.

    January 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. gladiatorgrl

    Lesser of two evils – Boehner or Cantor. We need NANCY BACK!! that woman could lead AND legislate!!

    January 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. Carolae

    I don't believe he got re-elected!! Gov. Christie should be the Speaker of the House as he tells it like it is. Boughner let not only the people in NJ/NY down from voting against the Hurricane Sandy relief fund, but he let those Republicans down that are going to be thinking hard before voting for another Republican again. This party deserves whatever they get down the road....no remorse here.

    January 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. mikefrank

    I thought the ratz left when a ship is about to sink, not re-elect the head rat?

    January 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. MeapersoninUS

    WHAT a joke. CLEARLY not one repuk in the House has any vision for America other then selecting a booze-head to "lead them"..........VERY SAD for America.

    January 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Jim

    Anybody want to bet if he'll be speaker after the 2014 elections? No way he'll be!

    January 3, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Allen West kicked his own self out by attacking Hillary Clinton and Debbie W-Shultz, this so-called black man should have known better than to attack these women but I guess he forgot who he really is.

    January 3, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Realityblowz

    He gonna squirt tears again?

    January 3, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Andrew

    Useless tools voting for more useless toolery.

    January 3, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Anna B

    Good. Let the Republicans continue to implode. It's not like any of the other Republican choices would have been better.

    January 3, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Firstname Lastname

    NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! John Boehner does not speak for me. All of us reading this article right need to get on the phone and pressure our congressmen for a re-vote. Today! My left pinky finger could do a better job than that clown.

    January 3, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. ma

    ooh........... the poor crying baby.

    January 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. JD Carpenter

    Surprise, not! Everyone hoping the GOP will break into fractions had it wrong again, go figure.

    January 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    "...(being a member of Congress is not a requirement to be elected speaker)...."
    ------------
    !!! If I've ever known about that, then I admit to completely forgetting. Better not let that info spread too far. I'd hate to think what a large faction of extremists might do. Could you imagine a Grover Norquist as House Speaker, 2nd in line behind the V-POTUS?

    January 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. dnc

    CTS Cry, Tan, Smoke, ready for reality show

    January 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Deez

    What part of "vote the bums out!" did you not understand?

    January 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Bone Head gets 2 more years

    Enjoy the next 2 years, because Republicans just got themselves elected out of congress in 2 years.

    January 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15