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. donlac

    This clown keeps this position because of party apathy and arrogance. If he were in the private sector showing the kind of performance we've seen, they would have fired his stupid &@!!"$ along time ago.

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

    at least it ain't Pelosy – when does the witch retire anyway ?

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

    Did he cry again this time?

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

    If they hadn't given it to him he would have cried.

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

    Darn, we won't get to see him cry crocodile tears. The tea party is right, there will be consequences, but not what they think it is. We the American people will vote all of the GOP/TP Klan out come 2014. I hope that Boehner, McConnell and Cantor are the first to go. We do not need these clowns who think we are still living in the 18th century and filling their pockets with payments from their rich buddies to keep the middle class down.

    January 3, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Latino

    That's awsome! So happy he was reelected! Hopefully the Republicans can block every "freebee" program that this administration tries to put through!!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. Cheryl

    Someone suggested Alan West for Speaker? That would have made for some hilarious hijinks. I think future historians are going to look back at this period in history and wonder what made so many people go crazy all at the same time.

    January 3, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. zoeyj

    It's all about control, greed and insighting fear...the doctrine of the Republican party all in the name of Christ in a Christian nation.

    January 3, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. tacky140601

    It is time for the Tea Party to make a decision. Will they simply continue to hide behind the skirt of the Republican Party or will they form a third political party? It is easy to hind behind the skirt while pushing for an extreme right agenda using gimmicks to punish the more moderate members such as the anti-tax pledge and the perennial persuader, money, or the lack of money for successful perennial elections. If they don't feel they have enough power to go it alone, they can always continue to hind behind the skirt until attrition of more moderates makes a third party unnecessary.

    January 3, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. Smacky Smooth

    I am with zisee, I am independent from now on. I think 2014 will be a bad year for them. How many Reps received payoffs for this display of the banal?

    January 3, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Foreverwar

    It's good to see the GOP getting an early start on working toward their 2014 and 2016 election losses.

    January 3, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. Rogue

    I think the Speaker should give the President EVERYTHING he wants – higher taxes, unchallenged authorization to raise the debt ceiling and continue deficit spending, and anything else the Dems want. Now THAT would be fun to watch!

    January 3, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. Wilson

    @studentofhistory
    There is only one explanation for the Tea Party's consistent contradictions.....racism. Lets be honest......the problem they have is that they do not want a black man for president.....plain and simple. If they were truly deficit hawks they would have been around for 30 years. They just so happen to show up when Obama is elected. Come on nation we arent that stupid.
    --------------------------------------–
    Bull! The tea party came into being because they listened to what Obama said his policies were going to be during the primaries. The same reason the republicans said they wanted to make him a one term president. His skin color had nothing to do with it. Everything he said he was going to do to america is straight out of the marxist/socialist handbook, which scared the beejesus out of thinking/listening americans. Of course he did not call it that, but if you do a little research that is exactly what Obama's policy's are.

    January 3, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Gail D

    must have to be a self-absorbed, ruthless, spineless whimp to get into congress – prime example: Boehner

    January 3, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. John john the pipers son

    stupid is as stupid does.

    January 3, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. bxgrrl

    Sniffles survives to obstruct some more.... [sigh].

    January 3, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Polar Bear

    Imperil is a nice word. It's going to kill us. Just a matter of time. We all voted for those people who are letting the debt "imperil" us, so we deserve it.

    January 3, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. RomneyWho

    The republican house is a facade and Boehner is just a figure head much like all these other Washington politicians, bar none. Each and every last one, from the White House to the out house (congress) and it continue to roll down hill and one day it will have the inevitable collision with that great big old giant fan and the hidden powers that be will stink to high heaven.

    January 3, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Julie Samba

    Woo Yoo grown ups win. Congratulations John.

    January 3, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Polar Bear

    When the country crashes, and it will, then hopefully the sober realists will be able to pick up the pieces. At that point, there will be zero handouts and entitlements. Zero.

    January 3, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Kevin

    I'm not sure which is more pathetic. The fact Bonehead keeps his position, or the fact that two of those brain-dead morons voted for Alan West. Disgusting.

    January 3, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Greenspam

    It's a great day in American politics!

    January 3, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Boehner does nothing for 2 years and gets relected."

    Welcome to the New Republican Grand Old Tea Party. Apparently "throw the bums out" is nothing more than TeaPer tough talk gamesmanship.

    January 3, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. McShannon

    Boehner's bar talk is brash; being the boaster at which he is better, the substance of his speech unpleasant trash, there can be no explanation for his act unless of course his imbibing strong drink is fact.

    January 3, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. ST

    He is there until next year. We can tolerate him as we have been doing. Though, its wastage of time, really.

    January 3, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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