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. Nate

    At least Boehner has no re election to consider. Dems and media can complain all you want, but he has been representing the way he is supposed to. He will not put up with Obama's arrogance, he will not fold for an "aid" bill for Sandy that has more pork in it then Rosie Odonnel's chin, and he wants to make cuts. Shocker.. Most Americans think the government should make cuts, but those in the government just don't get that. They point to every poster child possible and worry about their re election and not about making tough decisions that need to be made.

    January 3, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Getoverit


    And just how many democrates opposed Pelosi?
    And just how many voters opposed Obama?

    January 3, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Terry in Florida

    The 112th was an absolute embarasment to the nation... sadly I hope they set the bar low enough so the 113th won't be QUITE as awful. I may be hoping for too much.

    January 3, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Inkin

    why do we let the GOP continue to help the rich at the expense of the poor and needy?
    What is wrong with these people? they are as inhumane, greedy, cruel, and as unamerican as can be!
    the only explanation must be, besides their selfishness and hypocrisy, is that they are being paid off by
    Big interests in far greater amounts than we imagine.

    January 3, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |

    And so the rino was relected by the rinos. This Congress is the most corrupt congress there has ever been. We shall be led into a 3rd world status by the elected congress, and senate. All of our elected officials are as corrupt as any Chicago Style government organization that there has ever been. I am waiting for the millionaires of this nation to start an exodus from the United States at any time now !!!!!!!!!!! " I KNOW I WOULD".

    January 3, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Ian

    Seriously? Is he the best representative of the GOP? Is he really the best option? You folks have GOT to consider your priorities.

    January 3, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. dave

    great another 4 yrs of getting nothing done....what a joke

    January 3, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. TheObserver

    I had a long response written, and I just erased the whole thing, on purpose. This is a joke. When our congress can't arrive at the conclusion that people displaced by a hurricane need help, there's a problem. When a man can't become President until he's first become a millionaire or billionaire, there's a problem. When the people have to endure months of negative campaign ads, there's a problem. When we're all just "ok" with the aforementioned independently wealthy candidates spending billions on such negative ads while more and more of our youth fall below the poverty line, there's a problem. You know what the biggest problem is? The biggest problem is that THEY KNOW. They've known for years! There's decades of data, IGNORED. Washington is broken. PERIOD. It's not going to be fixed until the people care enough to fix it. Term limits people. Term limits. How much more do we have to endure? Are you proud to be an American right now? Or embarrassed?

    January 3, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. empresstrudy

    Congress is the ultimate do nothing poster child for civil service employment.

    January 3, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. 'Brinkmanship..vs..Leadership'...

    Pres Obama's call for "Brinkmanship" is a very hollow Echo..as the problem paguing Washington is the lack of "Leadership" all around..in the White House..in the Senate..in the House of Reps...all three come across as "The Three Wet Blankets" who just cannot come "Out-front" to serve "Country-FIrst" before their political self-interest...

    January 3, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. MacInBlack1970


    Eric Cantor: Pssssttt, can i borrow another 1.2 Trillion?

    Bhoener: Sniff sob....Sure Eric! Sniff Sobb....Will that be to cash? Sob Sniff!

    January 3, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Oh well...

    The GOP has nothing better to offer than this...a leader who has no leadership qualities, no great intellect, no vision, oh well what else to expect from the party of the clueless.

    January 3, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Libdumb

    I just don't believe the Republicans that air their dirty laundry in Public. No wonder that can't get anyone elected Nationally. Pelosi is one of the most incompetent people ever placed in that position and you never hear anything negative said publically about her from the Democrats.

    January 3, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. ObservantHistorian

    You'd think Boehner and the rest of the Republicans could have shown some concern about the deficit when their party was racking it up, all the while asserting "deficits don't matter."

    January 3, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. kgt

    Wow, what a way to shake things up and really make some changes in how the government is run!

    January 3, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. PurpleStikyPunch

    Can't do your job as a intelligent representative of the people? Here's another term!

    January 3, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    i am disappointed they rielect him after tuesday,hi dos not deserve another terme

    January 3, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. Samestuffdifferentday

    Of course they voted him back in there are all simple minded do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

    January 3, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. Teron

    What an amazing recovery Senator. God's Blessings be with you. It is a God given opportunity you never knows to serve and change the lives of those we know and those we don't know. There is only one life here on earth.We are all humans and love to hear of success stories. If you have the opportunity to change a life of someone you don't know, do it, because it might be the only opportunity. Death is like a silent night thief, there's no orange light warning before it sneaks in. Remained Blessed Senator.

    January 3, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. andres

    Wow! Even career politicians reelect incompetence an accurate reflection of the American voters. We are doomed!

    January 3, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Steve Newman

    Herding cats is easier.

    January 3, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. sss

    I not a Republican at all, but I like Boehner. A man that cries that easily is a real man. Just like many US Marines I know.

    January 3, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. Joi Gibson

    I like a sensitive man who is not afraid to cry – when appropriate – but this man's tears just leave me cold – kind of like he behaves. And now he is oh so concerned about the national debt – didn't seem to bother him when he was voting yes on every debt busting measure under previous presidents, and now he doesn't want to pay the bill under this president. And yet he derides other people who rely on government services. Pot meet kettle.

    January 3, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. angel

    The Bible teaches that only the Cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ can save the world,there is no other way,that means nothing else,not even wars of guns and bombs.The very fact that the Bible ends in the worst war ever tells us wars won't save the world or make it safer.And the Bible teaches that all life is precious and sacred to God,and all means one single life is as precious and sacred as many lives,but wars kill the innocent,including innocent fetuses,even by mistake,and God doesn't make mistakes men do.So wars are not of God,and so it's hypocritical to oppose abortions and be for wars.Many politicians seek to save the world and set men free through wars of guns and bombs when the Bible says it can only be saved and men set free from the bonds of sin,even that of killing innocent fetuses in wars,through Jesus Christ's Cross and Gospel.Politicians say they're concerned with the Govt debt they will leave future generations,but they are not as concerned with leaving them the idea that the world can be saved through wars,even while running up the Govt debt of wars,and the precious and sacred lives taken in wars the world over.

    January 3, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. James PDX

    The GOP has just admitted that Mr. Boehner remains the best member they have to offer. That's like if the best member of the Beattles had been Yoko Ono, in which case no one would have ever heard of the Beattles.

    January 3, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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