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. RT

    Man... next four years is going to be partizanship fights and economical cliffs one after another...
    With a country $16 trillions in debt and counting, nothing in horizen to improve the economy, failing dollar value and south asian competition on steroid ... no wonder why more than 2.8 million people bought guns in December preparing for self-defense...

    January 3, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. fletc3her

    The Republicans re-election of this ineffective speaker shows their strategy for the next four years. More of the same. Sigh.

    January 3, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Better Boehner than Cantor. Cantor is one of the most blatant bigoted racist communist in America next to Limbaugh and Trump if not the most blatant racist in the history of this country.

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

    What???? Well this answers a lot of questions about how these unqualified chameleons....

    January 3, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    This is great. We get to see live reruns of "Boehner's Playhouse" on C-SPAN.

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

    Of course. Why wouldn't he be re-elected by a bunch who apparently work at virtually doing nothing at our expense?

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

    Pretty much impossible to get fired, huh? No wonder politicians love their jobs.

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

    What a crock, another wasted chance to get someone who might actually do something other then whine like a child. Both sides of the aisle forgot that they were elected to do what is best for America not just their party!! R and D stands for revoke and destroy, both parties have lost sight on what Americans really need, it is a shame!!!

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

    that mistake will cost the GOP the house #114 if that is the case and he is still there and wait till voting time comes around mark it a huge loss for republicans ........................................ wait and see

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

    "The people have spoken."

    Not really. There are approximately 1.3M voters out there who essentially had their votes cancelled out by the GOP gerrymandering that allowed the GOP to keep a House majority despite losing the popular vote for House seats by said 1.3M votes.

    January 3, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Texmex1234

    A lot of people are frustrated of, tired of, even hate Obama, but still Mr.President got the second term,

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

    Whoa! And here I thought conservatives couldn't get any crazier....ALLEN WEST!?!

    January 3, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. You have got to be kidding me

    What is with this status quo baloney. Come on GOP'ers get with the program and inject some new blood into the fray.

    January 3, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Joe

    The guy does his job. All the libs were posting this morning how he'd never get re-voted in. Now listen to all the crying and mocking.

    January 3, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. boyamidumb

    They just don't get it do they.

    Time to clear the floor.

    January 3, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Julie

    Boehner re-elected...how is that even possible? This make NO SENSE!

    January 3, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. kathy/Minnesota

    OMG!!!! again with the crying like a drunk sailor......Grow the heck up and stop crying!!

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

    we should legislate away the "present" vote and all members of congress should have to cast a vote 100% of the time – either in person, or electronically.

    January 3, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Cary

    Wow...Republicans fall to new lows yet again. What a messed up party they are.

    January 3, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. Gail D

    Oh, goody – we continue to get to watch the disingenuous cry baby close ups.
    His only concern is HIS WALLET AND THOSE OF HIS WELL-OFF 'FRIENDS'

    January 3, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Jeff

    I am thinking that 2014 will be VERY similar to 2010 as far as elections go. Remember how democrats got a shellacking (Obama's words, not mine) in 2010? It will happen again in 2014.

    January 3, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. JohnW

    Not a good speaker by any stretch of the imagination, but can you imagine how bad off we all would have been with Cantor in there? Yikes.

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

    Great, can't believe that this Democrat posing as a Republican was reelected. Well, that does it for me, I am changing my status as a Republican to Independent. There you Republicans, you are all turning GOP people away from the party. Don't count on having a Republican elected in 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have just screwed everything up.

    January 3, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Smacky Smooth

    May delusion reign.

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

    Oh, goodie.

    January 3, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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