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. Wake up People!

    The republican party has turned into the Gong Show. Aren't there any left with at least half a brain??? This guy is the worst Speaker of the House that I have EVER seen or heard of. But I guess it should be expected, they did just attempt to foist the biggest phony in history off on us in the election. Pinocchio wearing mom jeans.

    So sad, nothing is going to be accomplished. Now that they can't make President Obama a one term POTUS, they will try to tarnish his legacy.

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

    I guess that is change to Republicans.Mwahahahaha.

    January 3, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. MacInBlack1970

    John Boehner is an embarrassment to himself, but more importantly he is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and even more importantly an embarrassment to the entire country. His level of ineffectiveness, ignorance and arrogance would seem to have no bounds. His antiquated, misguided precept of what the Republican Party is about is exactly what the people of the United States are completely sick of. Without proper perspective of their place in American politics the Republican Party is a declining failure. We as the American people can not afford to have this kind of personal infighting disrupting our government. We need responsible comprehensive leaders who can engage in intelligent dialogue to resolve serious issues the country faces, not childish posturing and arrogant attitudes, of “ I’ll take my ball and go home because I don’t like you” behavior. It is time Mr. Boehner sir to step up to the plate and ask forgiveness of the American people for your disrespect to the people of this great nation. Congress is not the personal playground of a spoiled child sir. You sir and your parties childish antics in Washington over the last two decades are exactly why I no longer find myself supporting the Republican Party and for lack of anything better have found myself supporting people who at least seem to try to make a small effort to behave as adults The Democratic Party.
    Should your enormous ego allow you to actually step up and be a responsible leader to ALL the people of this great nation I will be glad to lend you my support. But until you are willing to take the bitter pill of humility into your self and make it your own, you will receive no support just as you have been turned away by your own party.
    I wish you good luck and god’s forgiveness so you may meet
    this challenge and succeed sir. Sincerely

    January 3, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Furious Styles

    I guess they weren't really that mad at him after all. They'll probably swig on moonshine, quail sausage, other exotic foods and bill the tax payers tonight for dinner.

    January 3, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. snugghawaii

    Can't make a decision on the fiscal cliff, but made one on a cry baby. This country is a mess. Nothing but clowns in a circus.

    January 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    WHY??? What a piece of crap.

    January 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. David

    What a shame, he is horrible.

    January 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Sametestsameresults

    I guess Obama will have to double down on the clean ex budget for the SOH podium. I wonder if they have water proofed the microphone The speaker uses.....he cry's so much it could short out the audio on the house floor.

    January 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. sonnie3

    He is at least at the fore front to deal with the issues, however obama flyies back to Hawaii for the second time in two week,s costing a 7 million dollar additional debt, obama is going to suck the well dry the next 4 years with unnessesary trips around the globe with no reguard to feed the homeless instead. What a traitor he is.

    January 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. Taleneted

    Why doesn't the American People get to vote on the Speaker of the House, well now were gonna get 4 more years of Big Boys Bickering

    January 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. Gregory M. Newbold

    This is hardly a man worthy of being 2nd, behind Vice President Biden, of being President if the need should arise. We would be in sad trouble with this NON-LEADER at the helm.

    Thanks Harry Truman. Thanks alot.

    January 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Rich White Guy

    People can't really complain....you ignorant fools re-elected Obama, just to see the country burn to the ground. It matters not whom the other players are now.

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

    I don't mind that he was re-elected but why in God's name are they all clapping at the end of every sentence?

    January 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. TomGI

    His constituents from Ohio must be so proud today.

    January 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Howard

    Oh, joy! Another two years of utter ineffectuality in the lower (and I do mean LOWER) house of Congress.

    January 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. DustyOnes

    Kick'em in the head John.

    January 3, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    What ever happened to the days when the Speaker was actually respected by the American people? I guess we had too many ethically challenged people who held that position. Add to that, we had some that tried thuggery to get what they wanted, and others who were so far out of the mainstream that you have to wonder how they got the job in the first place. Then you had the non-entity Speakers who were afraid to do anything without the Majority Leader's permission, but we won't talk about Denny Hastert and Tom DeLay right now.
    Instead, we have orange-hued Cryin' John back at the helm of what is shaping up to be the second most dysfunctional Congress in our history. His majority is fragile enough that for many votes he will need the support of the Democrats, just as John McCormack need the Republicans to pass LBJ's Civil Rights legislation.
    However, our country has survived for more than two-hundred years because we are greater than the individuals that make up our government.

    January 3, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. SokrMom

    I guess we need to send an even stronger message to Republican Congressmen in 2014.

    January 3, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. chilly g

    I like what im seeing the republicans is take on there on and i hope the speaker will be strong and do what best for the country and not what th tea party wants.

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. 2 More

    Great, two more years of total grid lock... Arguing, fussing, fighting while the ship goes down. Why don't we just light the powder kegs in the storeroom and take it down now...

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. rvoter

    Had no reason to believe he would lose to never mind I'll leave it there.

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. x277

    Regular folks who do nothing for 2 years on their job get fired.

    Boehner does nothing for 2 years and gets relected.

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. Johnny 5

    America is going the way of the Titanic. The govt. keeps the music playing while the ship fills with water. They survive and we all sink to the bottom.

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. GuestAgain

    When we get a president that has a clue the improvement in our congressional leaders performance will be immediately noticed and perhaps then we can get our nation back on track. Maybe Obama can offer his resignation with an electronic pen signature from hawaii????

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. M.I. Snow

    WHY? He has to go down as one of the most inepth Speakers ever... WHY? Another 2 years of deep suntanning and "do-nothing" in Congress.

    January 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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