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. kelly

    This is a unbelievable, this country is a mess. Nothing will change now. The head clown will just keep fighting for the rich and screwing the middle class.

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. kdw

    I can not believe boehner has been re-elected this is a crime to our nation. Boehner should have been ousted out of all kinds of political activities he is a total jerk and treat the rest of the americans like dirt just like he did for the victims of Sandy. How can our leaders be so blind to the kind of person he is. Boehner is not a good man he is a selfish man who only thinks of himself. Our country in going down the toilet faster than anyone wants to admit. Obama please get rid of boehner it will do our country great justice PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get rid of him

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. ssgsanti

    Makes me want to puke. This is a sad day for our country.

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Tom

    Keeping the American dream alive of not doing anything and being paid to do it.

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Kevin

    Stupid is, as stupid does.

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Vad

    Be honest, wouldn't it have been boring if some "yes man" had gotten the position instead of Boehner? The President doesn't like him, the Senate Majority leader doesn't like him, most of the American Poeple don't like him and a growing number of his own Party don't like him. Can't wait to see what happens next!

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. ireuel

    This is simple; Obama can't blame Bush for four more years, oh he will but he now owns it 100 percent. Let the games begin. I hope the millions that voted for this guy understand that. They will not. Now the election is over all the money printing pressing is about to come home to rooster. 2016 we will have 26 trillion dollars of debt with the bill that just passed. We went over that cliff the first dollar we borrowed or printed without a doubt.

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. techmanager101

    Good to see the Republicans won't be a threat any time soon. No change there.

    January 3, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. thatgrlinaz

    God save us from the GOp and Tea party traitors. They won election on threats, back room deals, illegal monery laundering and lies. The tea party's threat that "there woill be consequences" for the fiscal cliff deal is another attempt to scare Americans into letting America go backwards to the 1800's when rich railroad barons and Company stores enforced slave labor and public hangings. These people are the worst of America and an embarassment to this country. Their childish foot stomping and whining and refusal to act like grown ups is only leading to more Americans like me and others I know to get out of the republican party faster than ever. Tey can all rot in hell wth their lies and dirty money.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. smartaz

    Why not? We have this nice streak of re-electing people to positions they are failing at.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. pintoman

    It's unfortunate, but as bad as Boehner performed, it's still better that he's there rather than a Tea Party supporter.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Namejanek

    Great leader was reelected, so GOP can stop the Dem party of habitual liars.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. ya rights

    Great! another two years of getting nothing done, May be the voters of that state will fix this issue.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. pffft

    Why not? We have this nice streak of re-electing people to positions they are failing at.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    Nice photo of his thumb's up....I'm pretty sure that's the one he sits on all day while doing nothing to help the economy in hopes of destroying the federal gov't.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Chris

    Was there any question? These people care not what we want -– lower taxes, smaller government, less welfare, no more wars.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Matt

    And now Boehner is gonna get himself some REAL revenge against the Tea Party.....

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Timber72

    "War against our government"...? Searcher, buddy, you DO realize that it is the job of EVERY American to constantly be at "war" with "our" govenment, lest they slip into what the Founders feared: Tyrants? It's probably too late, and has been since FDR was re-elected.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Anders Behring Breivik (King of the Island)

    What a surprise...typical american. All talk...no action. If it wouldn't be for the military...this would be a third world country.

    January 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Discussed

    The speaker has clearly failed at his job and should be removed. He is not working for the good of the American people, he is working for himself, his party members, and the wealthy. His district in Ohio should vote him out of the house completely in 2014.

    January 3, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Andy

    My first thought was, "Hey, Republicans who voted for Mr. Boehner as House speaker, go (expletive deleted) yourself". My second thought was, "Never mind, you already did".

    January 3, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. jacksonian2012

    The head do-nothing has been re-elected by the do-nothings. Congrats all around.

    January 3, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Sue T.

    "...he sold out the American People and the USA to obama." Duh ... last time I looked Pres. Obama won a vast majority of this nation's electoral votes. Hardly a sell-out by Boehner. The American people spoke in favor of Obama, not in favor of the candidate the Tea-Repubs offered. But then again the Tea-Repubs don't like to be confused by the facts preferring instead the unreality of Ayn Randland.

    January 3, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Slowgun

    Well of course he won re-elcetion to house speaker...I mean this congress has done such a great job for Americans and he should get all the credit.

    January 3, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. martini

    Why did I hope for a different outcome?

    January 3, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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