Republicans' Coup Against John Boehner Won't Work. Here's Why
John Boehner is in trouble. At least, that's what it seems like, because a bunch of Republicans want to oust the Speaker (yes, again). Boehner voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security without reversing Obama's executive order on immigration, a major break with the two-thirds of Republicans against the measure. Some of the GOP kids in the House are acting up and planning a Congressional coup to replace the Speaker with a Tea Party aligned member — but Boehner isn't going anywhere, and here's why.
Boehner's attempts to block the Homeland Security funding bill failed. But not because he's a poor leader. The problem? Structure. Boehner ran on and championed the Congressional ban on earmarked legislation. Votes are no longer swayed for projects like the failed Bridge to Nowhere. This makes policy-making harder, but it does cut down on federal spending for unnecessary and often ridiculous pet-projects (say, digitizing memorabilia for a rock band for $615,000). Boehner is now grappling with the reality of politics when there is no capital to distribute, a problem each speaker to come will face time and time again.
Democrats are also not inclined to see the speaker abandon or be de-throned by his Republican colleagues. Rep. Bill Pascrell told The Hill: “In terms of the institution, I would rather have John Boehner as the Speaker than some of these characters who came here thinking that they're going to change the world."
Rep. Raúl Grijalva also commented to The Hill on the possibility of Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip getting the top spot: “Then we would get Scalise or somebody? Geez, come on,” later adding “We can be suicidal, but not stupid.”
Democrats want Boehner to stay, with good reason — he's solid, and he knows how to run the House. He might use the office for occasional political theater, but he knows what's practical, something House Republicans defending Boehner also know.
Rep. Tom Cole said to The Washington Times: “Our problem isn’t leadership around here; it’s followership.” The children in the House are getting a bit restless and are acting out. And Rep. Peter T. King offered his analysis of the defecting Republicans to the Washington Times: “I don’t consider them conservatives. I consider them anarchists."
Boehner knows all too well about the Tea Party's war on his leadership. In January, he said during a FOX News interview: “I understand their concerns, I understand their frustrations. But we have a constitution that we abide by and we’re gonna live by.” But he's practical, and he knows how to negotiate a band with hundreds of members.
Whether Republicans it or not, Boehner is at least partially, if not very, responsible for maintaining Republican control of the House. He is after all, the de facto leader of Republicans on Capitol Hill. If folks get rowdy or mouthy, Boehner will only put them back in their place. Just take a look at the best comment from that FOX News interview: “I was the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."
Roasted. Sorry, guys — that gavel will remain out of your reach.
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