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. Keerview

    Wal Mart republicans unite! This is the best the GOP can come up with.

    January 3, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Ray

    The American Government (The GOP and the Dems BOTH) are endangering the American Dream! Part of the American Dream was "Do your job, work hard and things will work out for you"! To the US Congress "DO YOUR JOB WORK HARD AND THINGS WILL WORK OUT FOR YOU".

    January 3, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Gregory L. Faith

    Here we go again!!!

    January 3, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Eric

    Proof the GOP is lacking in intelligence... Yeah that guy what a leader....... NOT – I still vote no confidence in the GOP!!! Disband the party!

    January 3, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Chares the POET

    Boehner claims that Debt is imperiling the American Dream, what?! Two-thirds of our national debt comes from the Bush/Cheney administrations' starting one war via false pretenses, another without clear goals, then their tax cuts for the wealthy. Just paying the interest on this debt is affecting our economy. It is the GOP's dysfunction and wing-nut opinions that are blocking progress towards solving the problems afflicting our country! Would effective gun control– say, banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines– strengthen our American Dreams? Was Sandy Hook enough of a nightmare that we all can act to ensure our children's safety? Who supports the NRA, who resisted national-debt-reducing tax increases for their very wealthy clients?

    January 3, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. tony

    Save money for the People. Do it the Tea Party way. Abandon Socialism for Congress. Let each Representative buy their own individual med insurance policies and pension plan.

    I haven't seen any Tea Party member volunteer yet though.

    January 3, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. MacInBlack1970

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, THE WEAPER OF THE HOUSE! MR. BONEHEAD Bhoener!

    January 3, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. kuddln

    @ Republican, Rep. Walter Jonesl. He needs to get real in the political life... NO ONE calls you to ask for a vote... YOU are supposed to call them and ask them if they want to run again !!! Republican, Rep. Walter Jones is STUPID, he should RESIGN.

    January 3, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. ALKP

    What I like the most is that it adds one more to the lost column for fauxnews

    January 3, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Bill

    Oh Jesus, is he crying again?!?

    January 3, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Bob in Buxton

    Did he cry? That the worst Congress in US history votes him in again should be no surprise. Join the National Remove the Congress Movement. Do not vote ANY of these legislators back. They need to be Donald Trumped YOU'RE FIRED !

    January 3, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Marcia

    Of course, Boehner has been in Congress for years and voted for the debt he now decries-He was not conceerned as long as it was Bush adding to the debt

    January 3, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Safety First

    It takes Republican's a long time to realize that they lost the Presidential
    election and that people really do not like them very much ,anyway this assures
    us a Democratic government run by the party of the donkey for a very long time ,cool!

    January 3, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Brian

    I want to hear from a true Republican out there reading this, the answer to this question...and it's only because I really don't understand your viewpoint: why was the GOP not against debt when they passed two tax cuts and borrowed money for two wars, under the table, with emergency spending bills in Congress? Why was there no discussion about this "DEBT" ...AT THAT TIME, by fiscal conservatives?

    January 3, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. We who know best

    If there were no debt there would be not banks ,debt is big business
    all over the world

    January 3, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. E

    Only in America can a person be a miserable failure at his position and get rehired. Ugh.

    January 3, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. TC

    Hilarious how anyone on here can support either party or believe thier party "has the answers or the leaders" – delusional.

    January 3, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Jesus...more crying.

    January 3, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. EatRunDive

    "In total, 220 Republicans out of a conference of 234 went for the Ohio Republican during the tension-filled vote on the House floor."

    Exactly how is 220 out of 234 tension-filled? That's 94%.

    So much for consequences, huh Tea Party?

    January 3, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. BPAfree

    Geez...He's crying again?!? Stop crying...Michael Steel, I know your his little assistant...Tell him to stop crying...its embarrassing.

    January 3, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. Name

    The clown gets another act in the GOP circus, what a sad state of affairs.

    January 3, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Jorge Sedano

    Two folks voted for individuals that are not members of Congress any longer..

    January 3, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  23. YWalk

    Well my new hero is Governor Chris Christie, who at least had the balls to speak the truth and full marks to him for that !!!
    Of course I now have 2 new clowns that should be voted out of office at the first opportunity Boehner and Kantor. The latter scares me more than anyone in Congress and he is on a mission, guaranteed he will run for the Office in 2016, be aware.

    January 3, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. ScottW430

    Actually the Mayans were right... the world ended but it was a few weeks later when the Republican Party COMPRIMISED!!!!! But I'm sure it will be short lived as they will resort back to being the do nothings that we keep giving them credit for being...Boehner... The only thing imperiling the American Dream is you and the extremists in the former Republican Party!!!!

    January 3, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. John the Historian

    Why do Republicans never want to raise taxes on corporations or the rich ? It is because they are a big part of the Republican base. Hope Boehner is crying over his attempt by his own Republican party to oust him. Maybe he can join Willlard on the heaven planet of kolob.

    January 3, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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