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. Vern

    The only other option would have been Eric Cantor, and he'd have been a bigger disaster than Boehner has been. Cantor is a Tea Party darling, and all he would do is make it so the GOP would be sure to lose its House majority in 2014. He's not a legislator: he's simply a political thug.

    January 3, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. Vern

    And how does Allan West even get votes, when he's not going to be in the House? Strange.

    January 3, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Blinded by the republican lie

    Oh crap...Here we go again...I just hope with the newly elected people..we will have less gridlock and garbage like the 112nd...

    January 3, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Two Rights Make A Wrong

    Republican civil war.
    One can only hope.
    Lovin every minute of it.
    If they are too busy making war on each other,
    maybe they will leave the rest of us in peace.

    January 3, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Rev

    Voting for 2 more years of inaction and/or stagnation. Oh wonderful. Notice how the house has gotten the LEAST amount of work done under his tenure? Freaking lemmings.

    January 3, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. Peace

    Are all 220 who voted for him clueless?? Folks, wake up, next time make sure if you elect someone to represent you, must know what he is doing.

    January 3, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. ll

    Not buying it that the Republicans are just "now" concerned about debt...given they racked most all of it up themselves.

    January 3, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. CG

    He's probably promised a few of them his lunch money for the duration of his term.. That's all that can make sense.

    January 3, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Wake up People!

    Alan West had about as much of a chance that I have of becoming Speaker of the House.

    I often hear the RWNJ's talk about Chicago style politics and referring to President Obama as a thug, which is so farfetched. The real thugs are the GOP, you vote the way they want you to or you can kiss your job goodbye.

    PATHETIC!

    January 3, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. mhnet

    Re-electing Boehner Speaker of the House is the equivalent of the Detroit Lions giving general manager Martin Mayhew another year to turn the ship around. Should have cleaned house and started fresh, but instead we're in for more of the same misery.

    January 3, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Stryder

    Boehner is a total clown. The perfect mascot to represent the GOP.

    January 3, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Jeff Cox

    Where was Congress' concern in 2001 when we entered into two unfunded wars and bled the Treasury with the first round of tax cuts? Can you say, "hypocrisy"?

    January 3, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Boehners The Man!!!!!

    January 3, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. GuestAgain

    Good for Boehner, I hope this gives him added resolve. If we left it to the dumocrats we would be disarmed, out of work or taxed into poverty if we still had a job!

    January 3, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Fred54

    Swell, then propose some serious action. 1) abolish the FED. 2) End ALL bank bailouts including the $90B per
    month being dumped into the furnaces of Wall St. 3) End these criminal wars and cut the military 30% each
    year for the next 3 years to pair it down to what the constitutional demands of it, protect US borders PERIOD.
    4) Defund and dismantle the CIA and the NSA and the DHS, we don't need them..... Otherwise Johnny you
    are just blowing smoke..

    January 3, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. MacInBlack1970

    10, 9 ,8 ,7 ,6 , 5 , 4 ,3, 2, 1 CRYING TIIIIME !!!!

    YAYYY!!! there he goes! HAhahahahaaaaaa

    Right on CUE!
    Let those crocodile tears flow!

    January 3, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Oscar Pitchfork

    ...and after years like this, with things getting worse, when it all comes tumbling down, and our society fails 'cause of tyrds like YOU, fat man, just whose liver do you think the raging crowds are going to want to eat?

    January 3, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Jason

    Wow, apparently even Bachmann voted for Boehner. She almost loses her seat and we hardly hear anything from here these days. Now she's voting for an Establishment Republican Speaker. She apparently doesn't want to end up like her defeated Tea Party buds West and Walsh.

    January 3, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. waheid

    Electing Obama was not nearly as stupid as the Republican voters who elected Tea Party members to continue to sabotage the operation of the Congress and who continue to do everything possible to undermine our elected President. The Congress will remain deadlocked until the Republicans voters begin acting reasonably or until the Republican party simply dissolves as a viable political party. My guess is that the Republican party will soon cease to be a force in U.S. politics and the sooner that happens the better off our country will be.

    January 3, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. Namerandy

    John Boehner is the perfect choice if anybody can ruin the republican brand he can democrats can sit back and enjoy the show

    January 3, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Kevin in VA

    They are in their own little world up there, (self created) and I guess they judge JOB PREFORMANCE on their own grading curve.
    A little revolution can be a good thing, at times.

    January 3, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    Time to stop the runaway spending. Put on some real battle gear, and stop caving to the socialists.

    January 3, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Atlbirdawg

    Wow, it really is hard to lose your job in Congress. If the GOP continues down the same path they've traveled for the last 4 years the party may become an endangered species.

    January 3, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Mitch Eisenman

    The circus has re-elected its ringleader.

    January 3, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Tony

    "In accepting second term as speaker of the House, John Boehner says debt is imperiling the American Dream."

    Uhhhh, then why did you vote for the fiscal cliff bill that INCREASES debt???

    January 3, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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