John Boehner had a really bad week last week culminating in a really horrid Friday. His GOP Conference is deeply divided. 50 or so very conservative members, associated with the Tea Party and Freedom Caucuses in the House of Representatives, decided to take Boehner on. Their refusal to back his short term, three week, Homeland Security funding bill forced him to accept the help of Democrats to get a one week funding extension secured with a promise to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he would put the Senate bill on floor that extends funding through September.
THE 50 ARE GOING TO HATE IT AND A NUMBER OF OTHER REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO JOIN WITH DEMOCRATS TO PASS THIS BILL.
Will the next step be an anti-Boehner mutiny —and would it necessarily end up a success?
Under House rules, a speaker can be challenged at any time. Any of the 435 House members can introduce a bill to boot a speaker—and obtain a quick vote. According to the House rules, “A resolution declaring vacant the office of Speaker is presented as a matter of high constitutional privilege.” This means that such a measure essentially goes to the front of the line. It doesn’t have to wind its way through the rules committee, where the speaker and his allies could smother the legislation. Nor would this privileged motion require unanimous consent to reach the House floor. A House member need only announce his or her intention to place this resolution on the floor, and the speaker must schedule a vote within two legislative days. The measure then can pass on a majority vote of those voting, as long as a quorum (that is, half the House) is present although those present need not vote, Aye or Nay. They may abstain.
Here is the thing. The 50 Tea Partiers cannot depose Boehner by themselves. They do not have the votes. They would likely win over some other GOP, but the institutionalists, the anti-Tea Partiers, the moderates, would not go along.
The ONLY WAY the Tea Party could succeed………is if enough Democrats join them in deposing Boehner.
What if Pelosi were to instruct her colleagues to stand clear of the GOP civil war by not voting on the vacate-the-speaker measure? Presumably, the anti-Boehner forces would be crushed by non-tea-partiers.
Of course, Boehner would then owe his speakership to Pelosi. Boehner might prefer to resign and enjoy slower days of golf and merlot. (How’s this for a backroom deal: Boehner brings a clean funding bill to a vote, and Pelosi agrees to help him hold on as speaker?)
Why would Pelosi do this?
- The Speaker would be beholding to her and her Democrats.
- The Tea Party would be weakened.
- She would get to keep a weak Speaker and avoid the possibility of having to deal with a stronger, and perhaps more conservative, replacement.
If Boehner is cast out, the House would have to choose a new speaker, which creates an even nastier scenario.
Boehner could run again.
The rebellious Rs, most certainly, would look to back another Republican as speaker. (Technically, they might be able to vote for Sen. Ted Cruz; oddly, a speaker need not be a House member.) There are no likely replacements. No one really wants the job given the dynamics. The House GOP caucus would need to unify behind a candidate, or risk dividing its votes and creating an opportunity for the Democrats to elect Pelosi as speaker.
Still even if Boehner holds on, his Speakership will continue to be a weak one with the Leader of the House unable to lead for lack of a working majority that he can count on.