Our system of government was designed to be run from the bottom up. Our founding fathers wanted to be sure that we the people would have the final say in matters of great importance, not the president or congressional leaders, and certainly not the Supreme Court.
They also recognized that it was we the people who must have absolute control of the power of the purse, not the other way around. That is why the Constitution mandates that all spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives and that the members of that illustrious body must stand for re-election every other year. They gave us the ability to rein in congressmen if they overstep their bounds.
To say that John Boehner has failed as Speaker of the House is to state the obvious.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to dump a sitting speaker. As the old saying goes, “Power corrupts, and absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” Congressional leaders have a lot of power and they do everything they can to maintain it. That is why the current Congress holds the elections for party leadership positions for the next Congress before the new members are seated. It’s all supposed to be a fait accompli but is it?
Not completely. The only thing that remains to be decided in January is the vote for Speaker of the House. That’s because the speaker is ostensibly the leader of the entire Congress. Therefore, that vote must be taken, not in the conference (party) meeting, but on the floor of the House itself.
This is usually the very first order of business. It will happen on January 6, 2015. Not a lot of time to rally the Boehner opposition.
Nevertheless, in a perfect world, it could happen and here’s how:
In the new 114th Congress, the House of Representatives will be comprised of 247 Republicans (assuming they win the recount of Arizona’s 2nd district) and 188 Democrats.
All 188 Democrats will vote for Nancy Pelosi, which means that Boehner must get at least 189 Republican votes to win because the speaker must get a majority of all votes cast, not a majority of the 435 members of the House. If Boehner fails to get a majority, balloting will continue until members coalesce behind someone else.
Therefore, if just 59 Republicans were to vote “present” instead of casting their vote for Boehner, Pelosi would be elected speaker if none of those who voted “present” failed to amend their votes.
A Republican will be the acting chairman for this election. During the roll call, if 59 Republicans simply answer “present,” the chairman will temporarily suspend the vote. At that point the deal-making would begin. Conservatives, who were not even consulted on the cromnibus bill, would then be in the driver’s seat. Boehner would have to agree to step down in favor of a replacement. If not, he would hand the speakership to Pelosi.
In 2013, nine Republicans cast a vote for someone other than Boehner. If just 30 Republicans would do that in January, that would cut the required number needed to force him out in half. It also, subjects them to punishment by leadership should they fail. A “present” vote simply sends a message that we are willing to negotiate over a suitable replacement. Also, it’s much easier to punish 30 than 59. This is a much better way to go.
Who would be a suitable replacement for Boehner? There are many young congressmen who have shown promise. It should be someone who has been around long enough to know the ropes, but not long enough to be “House-broken” — someone who did not vote for the cromnibus. Budget hawks Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tom McClintock of California, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Bill Flores of Texas (current chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee) are all good prospects.
Remember, sixty-seven Republicans were willing to oppose Boehner and vote “no” on the cromnibus. A few of those members are retiring but the members who are replacing them all got elected by promising to rein in Obama and rein in spending. The incoming freshman already have offices set up and are able to receive your messages.
Many of the new members may feel beholden to Boehner because the speaker controls a large war chest and has funneled money their way. They will have to decide whether to support Boehner or to support the people they were elected to represent.
Make no mistake. It will not be easy to depose Boehner, but it can happen if your congressman is willing to stand with conservatives and initially vote, “present.”