What will Nancy Pelosi make Boehner do to save his Speakership?


When someone challenges the Speaker of the House (by a technical procedure known as declaring the office of the speakership "vacant"), usually the leadership holds what is basically a vote of confidence immediately to show that a majority of the members still support the Speaker. Otherwise it raises doubts about whether the Speaker still has the support of the majority of the members.

But that's not what happened when Rep. Mark Meadows declared the office of the speaker vacant in late July in protest against the accomodationist policies of Speaker John Boehner. The House didn't hold any kind of vote at all, and the delay is telling.

Meadows, one of 24 members who at the beginning of this Congress voted for a Republican alternative to Boehner alongside one—Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) who voted “present,” which was technically a meaningless vote—believes it’s safe to assume that that 25 members will vote once again to remove Boehner as Speaker of the House should he bring his motion to vacate the chair up as a privileged resolution in the fall. At least three more—Reps. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ)—have publicly pledged they will join him. Several more, including major power player conservatives, have behind the scenes promised they will not support Boehner’s re-election as Speaker. If every member of the House is present and votes, then the benchmark for Boehner to lose re-election is that 29 Republicans must vote to get rid of him—assuming no Democrats vote for Boehner. With 28 now publicly opposed to his re-election, as many more are privately opposed to his re-election, it looks more and more likely that if such a vote came up—Meadows or any other member could force it within two days of offering the motion as a privileged resolution—Boehner would not be re-elected without help from the Democratic Party. If Boehner loses re-election, then the House will go into a briefly chaotic process of finding a new Speaker before more official business can be conducted. That person could be any citizen of the United States, but more likely than not will be a different member of the House than Boehner.

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So it looks like Boehner will need Democratic support to stay as Speaker, which would be unprecedented. That means Boehner would be at Nancy Pelosi's mercy. She could demand anything from him and likely get it.

Of course, she is already getting most of what she wants. Boehner has passed spending bills fully funding Obamacare. He has fully funded Obama's illegal amnesty. He has fully funded Planned Parenthood, and the Export-Import Bank. He has refused to set up any select committees to investigate Obama. He has been cooperative on Obamatrade and the Iran deal and many other issues. It's not clear what else she could demand of him, but it seems from here out that Boehner will be her hostage. And I suspect we'll see a lot more of this.

Exit question: Will Republicans tolerate a situation where the Republican Speaker is only speaker by virtue of Democratic votes?

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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