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. Mork121

    You poo poo the congress, but it's still more functional than most legislative bodies in the world. By the way, I'd rather have someone in there who has feelings rather than a lying robot.

    January 3, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Mete Krop

    In this voting Boehner get 220 whereas Cantor got only 3. You guys see the defference between these two dueds. Canter is nothting but an idiot who is there to mess up congress. He should be voted off the congress total in the year 2014. All people of like him alos should be eliminated likewise. They have no value to the American's but to their stomach.

    January 3, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. JerPell

    Well thew American people got the royal shaft with the fiscal cliff deal....More taxes and more spending.....The two things we don't need!

    January 3, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. phearis

    If the National Debt is the biggest concern now ..... Then perhaps the Republicans shouldn't have lied to the American people and started two illegal and unfunded Oil Wars. Or are those also Obama's fault.

    Just Saying.

    January 3, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. scott

    And of course we all know how you pay off debt...you give the rich folks more tax breaks....its so obvious!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Reese

    Debt isnt imperiling the american dream, shortsightedness of the republican party is what is hindering the people of what could be the most important time in human history!

    January 3, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Ken in MD

    So for years he leads the House in blocking a vote on every bill that might improve the economy (hoping that would end Obama's reign as President), and helps in garnering both a lower credit rating for the US and the lowest job approval rating in Congress' history, but what the GOP is upset about is his passing a bill that helps middle class Americans. Gotta love the Grand Obstuctionist Party.

    January 3, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. 2012liberal

    Nothing will b done in house as long as boehner keeps hands tied with hastert rule. Needs 2 STOP NOW!

    January 3, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. Pete

    How was this dummy re-elected? Oh yeah, because other dummies re-elected him. Why don't they allow ordinary people to vote? He'd be outtta there so quick!

    January 3, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. 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.

    January 3, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. c

    And just how many democrates opposed Pelosi?

    January 3, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. c

    How many opposed Pelosi?

    January 3, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Elmer

    " noting he's been in Congress eight terms"

    And there's the root of the problem...career politicians. Time for term limits for these clowns.

    January 3, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. Widow

    Most of you are soo out of touch and not actually reading the bills and deciding for yourself not letting CNN and others decide for you. Yes the republicans suck.. But they did not cause most of this mess financially. Historically republicans have been much more fiscally responsible than democrats. Obama spent half the national debt on non sustainable jobs.. Basically money just pissed away and not recirculated in the economy. Then he wants to spend more. Why hasn't he come up with a way to reduce spending? Why is his focus on taxing people? Why hasn't this whole conversation been about stop wasting money and manage what you have better while finding out ways to bring in new revenue without taxing people? Democrats signed the frank Dodd bill that cost the housing market and Americans trillions.. bill Clinton said signing it was the worst mistake of his life. Those two idiots are still in congress. Then you have social security which the democrats voted to steal out of and spend the money how they wish.. Still forcing millions of Americans to pay into something most under 40 will never see. Then you have Medicare and medicaide which are both bank riot and cost private health care over a 100 billion a year. It is a complete joke.. Yet 90% of the complaints are all about republicans.. It makes zero sense.. I just listed more money than the national debt and it was all failed programs by the democrats alone.. Now take the republicans mishaps in Iraq which the democrats voted to go into even Hillary said to do it. But hindsight is 20/20.. No one remembers who voted for what just who brought it up. Our own president never came up with a bill while in the senate.. He abstained from voting most of the time and came from the most corrupt state in the country whose only experience was being a community organizer.. He can't even work with his own party let alone republicans. I find it unbelievable that the media has corrupted you all so much. Do your own fact checking and research.. Then post a comment.

    January 3, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. MacInBlack1970

    So I guess we'll be watching Bonehead Cry some more since he got re-elected to his NON-functioning House seat.....

    January 3, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Ken M

    If he's such a bad speaker why did he get chosen again? Has he ever considered public speaking classes?

    January 3, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. cooper

    Of course, now Boehner will have to blame the President for the state of the country. All he has to do is look in a mirror to see who should get some of the blame, and around the same room he "works" in to see more of the problem.

    January 3, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. Reese

    pete you are so right!!! speaker of the house should be voted in by the American people!!! We will have our Justice Done!!!

    January 3, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. catamaran

    Anyone still remembers Sandy Massacre and gun control, or are we too busy?

    January 3, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Tea Party members should not be so quick to point blame at Speaker Boehner. They would have gotten more out of the negotiations had they supported Boehner's Plan B. Being ideological purists, they voted it down and left the Speaker dangling in the wind. They need to grow up and recognize that politics is the art of compromise.

    January 3, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. Liz

    They spend 12 months hanging on the edge of the "fiscal cliff", and take only minutes to re-elect Bozo!

    January 3, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. PS

    The GOP must be gluttons for punishment to want Boehner to continue leading them. He's been verbally abusing his colleagues right and left as of late, a clear sign he cannot handle being under pressure. Let's hope he gets his sorry behind tossed out when it's time to vote on his seat in 2014.

    January 3, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Dave

    Loved Boehner's comment on the debt. Created by Reagan, Bush and Bush the idea was to bankrupt America so they could defund Social Security, Welfare, and Medicare. Any one not believing these truths need only read the PNAC statement.

    January 3, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. MacInBlack1970

    @ X277!!

    100% agreed ! Anyone in my position or any working American that did not do anything for 2 years straight would've ben fired after 4 weeks! I can't wait for filibuster reform!

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

    Boehner remaining Speaker makes absolute GOP sense....

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