January 3rd, 2013
01:39 PM ET
10 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.

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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.


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. Andrew

    My American dream is that the Government should take care of me!!

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

    Is anyone surprised? These people always go for anything available. Remember they went for Romney.

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

    Boehner's approval rating was higher than Congress'.

    January 3, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Rosslaw

    Hey, how about all congressional republicans now hold their breath until their caucus actually passes a jobs related bill-I see a win-win situation here. Tan Man never had a serious worry about losing his post due to incompetence (the new conservatism) since no one else in his party wanted the job of pretending to influence the flat earthers in the republican party who tell Tan Man what they will allow to do in the first place.

    January 3, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. RCBinTN

    Congratulations, John. You're doing a good job.

    January 3, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. Detada

    Did he show his feminine side again and cry?

    January 3, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. TC

    Not surparising considering all our politicians are complete incompetents.

    January 3, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Barney

    We have to have debt to fund the country's obligations in times when the economy is down. The best fix for our debt is having a stronger economy. The WORST thing that could have been done, is having taxes DECREASED when our economy was strong. Thanks George! That kills us right now. Never should have lowered them. Lowering taxes should only occur as relief in a bad economy, NOT as a reward for a good economy. Dumb as a rock.

    January 3, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Earnest

    And how does Allan West even get votes, when he's not going to be in the House? Strange.
    Hi Vern...it's me Earnest...From the articl:

    (being a member of Congress is not a requirement to be elected speaker). Pelosi received a total of 192 votes.

    January 3, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. jinx88

    Looking at the direction of your party, I would cry too. What a joke!!! LMAO

    January 3, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. quantumbreak

    All Boehner has to do is look in the mirror to see what's imperiling the American Dream!

    January 3, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Art Leigh

    It could be worse, Eric Cantor was gunning for the job.

    January 3, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. gmenfan54

    John Boehner leading the Republican Congress: The blind leading the crazy.

    January 3, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Rev

    "How many opposed Pelosi?"

    Geeze is basic math really that hard to come by these days? Let's see, Pelosi got 192 votes with 1 bucking the trend to vote for Powell. As of yesterday there are 193 dems in the house. Even my 3 year old nephew can solve for x on this one.

    January 3, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Hogan's Goat

    I actually suspect that he will die suddenly in the next few weeks, and there will be little interest in an investigation. Me? I am a LONG way from DC and not that interested. But others are, and firearms sales are way up.

    January 3, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Robyn

    It is good to know that Mr. Boehner can cry for himself,
    but not for those homeless people in the storm's wake that he callously left in the cold.

    January 3, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. apstar

    Birds of a feather... Protect our own... The GOP is too stupid to even cut down the man that caused them so much grief. Dump all Republican candidates in the 2014 elections.

    January 3, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Mr. Speaker Boehner... such a nice ring to it.

    January 3, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. JPC

    Interesting factoid... the Speaker must be elected by an absolute majority of the representatives (218 in the modern era). If three additional GOP reps didn't vote for Boehner, he wouldn't have been elected on the first ballot.

    While it's almost certain that Boehner would have been elected on a second ballot (after reading the riot act to the recalcitrant reps), that would have been the first time that happened in 90 years (1923 was the last, when it took nine ballots).

    January 3, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. Odette

    MacInBlack1970, I suppose you find the Dems led by the Chief Liar/Blamer are much better than the GOPs? Open up your eyes, Sir, and look around. Don't get fooled by what you hear from the MSM (mainstream media). Do your own fact checking before your post any unpleasant comments.

    January 3, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. Greg

    Did the Republicans forget that Allen West was just voted out of office.....?

    January 3, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. edzepp

    I find it most amusing that an absolute psycho nutcase like Alan West actually got two votes.

    January 3, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. Art Leigh

    "Rep. Louis Gohmert voted for West" Proof positive that Gohmert has no brains! neither does Paul Broun!

    January 3, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Mr. X

    No, YOU are imperiling the American Dream, hack.

    January 3, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. 45h44hh

    the ignorance continues

    January 3, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
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