Only 16 Members Can Unseat Boehner, Group Says
The president and CEO of conservative group American Majority Action (AMA) is demanding Republicans band together to fire House Speaker John Boehner.“Speaker Boehner has been an abysmal failure as speaker, and his latest purge is the nail in the coffin for conservatives,” AMA’s Ned Ryun said in a statement. “Boehner has never won a negation battle with the White House or Senate—and he’s been nothing short of an embarrassing spokesman for the Conservative Movement. It’s time for him to go.”
Ryun pointed out, too, that if conservatives want to unseat Boehner, they’d only need 16 members to abstain from supporting him in January. That’s because Boehner needs 218 votes to become Speaker again. Seeing as there are 233 House Republicans next Congress, and assuming no Democrats would vote for Boehner as Speaker, if 16 conservative Republicans abstain from voting, Boehner wouldn’t regain the Speakership.
“The Conservative Movement doesn’t realize we only need 16 House votes to block Boehner from becoming Speaker,” Ryun said. “House rules demand nominees for speaker to receive a majority—at least 218 votes—to win election. If 16 members abstain, Boehner only has 217 votes.”
The Republican caucus already locked the votes for leadership slots up in conference shortly after the election, but it has to be made official at the beginning of the next Congress in January. That means conservatives upset with Boehner’s leadership technically could band together to ouster him.
After this week’s Boehner purge of conservatives from influential committee roles, enough Republicans might be perturbed enough to do something about it – especially with Boehner threatening retaliation against more than just the four conservatives he’s already yanked from their committee spots if anyone else doesn’t toe the leadership line.
House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday warned his House Republican conference against dissent from GOP leadership – and threatened retaliation similar to that against the already-purged conservatives if anyone else breaks from his pack.The Hill reports that, according to Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Boehner used his weekly GOP conference meeting to “note that we [leadership] have punished four members, he claimed that it had nothing to do with their conservative ideology, but had to do with their voting patterns."
Huelskamp also said Boehner threatened “there may be more folks that will be targeted” and that Boehner told the caucus that “‘we're watching all your votes.’”
It’s unclear what criteria Boehner and GOP leadership plan to use in the weeks and months ahead. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel wouldn’t provide specifics on what criteria or votes on which the Speaker is “watching” conservative Republicans. Instead, when asked, Steel provided Breitbart News with the exact quote another Boehner spokesman gave two nights ago for a response to a completely different question. “The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors,” Steel said.
Huelskamp is one of the four conservatives purged from committee assignments from which he would be able to affect fiscal policy. He was pulled from the House Budget Committee and House Agriculture Committee. Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash was pulled from the Budget Committee too, and Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were removed from the House Financial Services Committee.
Huelskamp also addressed the GOP caucus on Wednesday and said he received “warm reception from some and silence from others.” He asked GOP leadership to publicly provide "that list of votes used in the Steering Committee to reward or punish members."
As first reported by Breitbart News, GOP leadership – Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Whip Kevin McCarthy – used a secret criteria list to decide which members to cut. Officials in each of their offices refuse to discuss the details of the list on the record with press and they refuse to publish it, so it’s unclear what criteria they used. It’s also unclear which figures in leadership sparked this process and what specific roles each official involved played.
At first, GOP leadership tried to pin at least part of the blame on the chairmen of the respective committees from which they pulled each member – Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and incoming Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling. While a spokesman for Ryan hasn’t returned multiple requests for comment on the purge, a spokeswoman for Hensarling on Wednesday told Breitbart News that her boss had nothing to do with the purge.
The story from House GOP leadership keeps changing. On Wednesday afternoon, BuzzFeed reported – citing anonymous leadership aides – that there were different loyalty issues with each of the members. That’s a sharp departure from what Boehner had just told his caucus in its weekly meeting and what GOP leadership aides have told press at the beginning of this controversy.
“Huelskamp and Amash have repeatedly been thorns in the side of leadership, and in some cases their colleagues — in fact, one aide pointed out that Huelskamp voted against Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget,” BuzzFeed wrote. “And Schweikert engendered significant anger amongst elements of leadership during his reelection bid against fellow Republican Ben Quayle. He is also widely considered by leadership to be the source of an embarrassing story this summer about Republican members’ drunken swimming session in the Sea of Galilee.”
“Schweikert, notably, was also ousted from Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s Whip Team last year because of concerns with his loyalty,” BuzzFeed added. “The Whip team is a key organ of leadership, designed to help round up support amongst Republicans for bills coming to the floor. A Republican aide also pointed to the fact that Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican who has consistently broken with leadership over the war, was replaced on the Financial Services Committee by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a protégé of Sen. Jim DeMint and one of the most conservative members of the House.”
What those leadership aides told BuzzFeed after widespread conservative backlash directly contradicts what leadership aides told Roll Call about the purge before they faced any criticism. “You want good things in Congress and to have a good career? Better play along nicely,” a leadership aide told Roll Call.
House GOP Leaders Purged Conservatives Using Secret Criteria List
House Republican leaders used a secret criteria list to decide which conservatives to purge from powerful House committees, Breitbart News has learned. As this time, it appears they will keep the criteria list hidden from the public, too. Spokespeople for members of House GOP leadership have refused to discuss details about the list on the record with press.Because GOP Leadership won't discuss the list, it’s unclear what specific criteria the list contained and how much of a role it played in the conservative purge. It’s also unclear which member of House Republican leadership initiated this process.
In remarks to the Heritage Foundation’s Bloggers Briefing on Tuesday, Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp confirmed the existence of such a list.
“We’ve heard from multiple sources that someone walked in with a list of votes and said if you didn’t reach a particular scorecard of what was considered the right vote – which by the way, in most cases, was not the conservative position – then [they said] ‘we’re going to have to remove you from the committee,’” Huelskamp said.
“All that took place behind closed doors, which is again a problem with Washington, D.C. – whether it’s the budget negotiations, whether it’s everything else, it’s usually done behind closed doors," he explained. "I think, as conservatives, this is where we can win: We’ve got to be willing and able to talk about things in public instead of being afraid of actual public scrutiny.”
Huelskamp later told Breitbart News he thinks House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Whip Kevin McCarthy owe it to the American people to be transparent about this decision making process – and that they should publicly release the list.
“In the name of transparency and openness, they most certainly should release the criteria,” Huelskamp said in an email. “Republican leadership promised America a new era of transparency – they should deliver on it.”
Huelskamp was one of four conservative Republicans that GOP leadership removed from committees on which they’d have the ability to affect fiscal policy. He and Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash were pulled from the House Budget Committee and Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina got yanked off the House Financial Services Committee.
Amash, who joined Huelskamp at the Heritage Foundation event on Tuesday, said nobody in leadership even informed him of the move. “We haven’t even been told officially that I’ve been removed from the Budget Committee,” Amash said. “I’ve had to read it in the newspapers. So, actually, I’ve received not a single call from anyone in leadership. Not a single email. I’ve received no messages about it. I’ve been not told about what committees I will be on, if in fact I have been removed from Budget – which I have to assume is true.”
Amash added that, like Republican Study Committee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, he thinks this type of behavior from GOP leadership is dangerous for the party.
“For a party that’s trying to expand its base and make sure that it reaches out to young people and new groups, I think it’s pretty outrageous frankly,” Amash said. “It’s pretty clear I come from a more libertarian wing of the party – this is the growing portion of the Republican Party. And, really, it’s a slap in the face of all young people who are out there thinking about being Republicans, want to be part of this party and are being told ‘well, if you disagree with leadership just a couple times, we’re going to send you home and we’re going to tell you you’re off the committee and you don’t get to participate.’”
Amash said, too, that he voted with Budget Committee Republicans “95 percent of the time” over the past two years. “On the 5 percent of disagreements, those were on some big issues at times and I think that we didn’t take a strong enough approach in dealing with our debt – which is why we’re all here,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to have budgets that are unbalanced until the year 2040.”