Following increasing dissatisfaction with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), staffs of unnamed House members have developed a detailed plan to oust him as the first order of business when the new Congress convenes on Thursday, January 3. Matthew Boyle, writing for Breitbart.com, obtained a copy of the plan with its strategy and tactics laid out in detail. Provided by staffers who demanded anonymity in case the plan backfires, it will be the first issue the House will have to deal with when the Congress returns to Washington.
Initial rumblings of discontent with Boehner’s leadership appeared immediately after his “purge” of four conservatives from the House Budget and Financial Services committees: Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). A GOP leadership aide told NBC News that they were “clearly not team players,” and had to go. Specifically each of them strongly opposed the Budget Control Act of 2011 which set the stage for the current fiscal cliff confrontations.
Said Ned Ryun, president and CEO of American Majority Action (AMA),
Speaker Boehner has been an abysmal failure as speaker, and his latest purge is the nail in the coffin for conservatives. Boehner has never won a negotiation 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.
When he learned of the purge, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) could see what was coming: “They’re going to punish freshman legislators? If you’re looking for dissension, then you’re going to get it. These congressmen will never cave. They’re going to get the support of the people … they will become heroes.” Rep. Amash concurred: “It just emboldens us. I talked to a number of conservatives…who are appalled at what happened. The leadership team has a growing rebellion on their hands.”
When Boehner called off last Thursday’s vote on his Plan B which included tax increases on high income taxpayers because he couldn't round up enough votes to secure passage, it was the last straw for Ryun. The day after the vote was cancelled, Ryun said:
Speaker Boehner embarrassed the Conservative Movement yesterday by pushing a plan which AMA told him he didn't have the votes to pass…
Conservatives must take this opportunity to define the direction of our movement — and proposing a plan Pelosi wanted just months ago isn't the solution.
Ryun did the math and concluded if just half of those 35 House members who refused Boehner’s inducements voted against him in January, the House would have a new speaker. According to Boyle, here’s how the plan would work:
First, a Republican member of the House will introduce a resolution at the start of business to hold a secret ballot for the election of the Speaker. If that resolution passes, then members would be free to vote without fear of retaliation, even if Boehner is reelected.
At present, the vote for speaker is a roll call vote, but part of the ouster strategy is to remind Boehner of his position regarding secret ballots concerning “card check” legislation being proposed back in February 2009. Boehner wrote a column at U.S. News which explained his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act:
Contrary to its title, the Employee Free Choice Act actually would strip workers of free choice in union organizing elections....
Instead, it would leave them open to coercion and intimidation — from either union officials or company management — to sign or not sign a card expressing their desire to join a union. It's commonly called a "card check."
In other words, rather than allowing an employee to make this critical choice in secrecy, the act would end workers' right to privacy, making "votes" completely and utterly public, for all coworkers, union organizers, and employers to see.
Planners are hoping to embarrass Boehner into silence at the risk of his appearing hypocritical if he were to oppose a secret ballot this time. According to the plan, such a resolution “puts [the] Speaker in [the] impossible position of opposing [a] secret ballot or being confronted on the Floor with his own, indicting op-ed stating the secret ballot for union members [would end] “coercion” and “intimidation.”
The next step would be for enough disgruntled conservative Republicans to vote “no” which would then force the vote for a new speaker. According to the plan, if every member of House is present (Illinois Democrat Jesse Jackson has resigned), there will be 434 voting members on the floor Thursday morning. Boehner would need 218 of them to vote for him to keep his position. There are 233 Republicans in the House, and 35 of them resisted Boehner’s last-minute arm-twisting on his Plan B. If just 16 of those 35 defect, Boehner’s bid would fail. That’s the plan.
Once the door is open, then another vote would be taken for a new speaker. AMA is pushing for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), although AMA press secretary Ron Meyer noted that “there aren't enough votes to elect someone new — yet.”
As Boyle explained:
If these conservatives aren't successful in removing Boehner — but get close — they expect Boehner to cave and give them several concessions. Those concessions would include “that Boehner should move … to decentralize power to the members, re-establishing trust and his legitimacy as the leader of the party.”
In any event, as these plans continue to be refined and rehearsed to be set in motion next Thursday, Speaker Boehner’s image as a “conservative” will be forever tarnished and will serve as a reminder to the Republican establishment that the real conservatives — those elected to Congress on promises to cut spending and not to raise taxes — are a force to be reckoned with. And none too soon.
Photo of Rep. John Boehner: AP Images