US Congressman Files Motion to Oust House Speaker Boehner
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – US Republican Congressman Mark Meadows reportedly has filed a motion that would attempt to force John Boehner from his position.
North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows had heard from leading conservatives that trying to oust Speaker John Boehner right now was a bad idea.
Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), fierce and frequent critics of leadership, thought the move was ill-advised. Some of Meadows’ friends didn’t even see it coming. But just before 6 p.m. Tuesday — a day before the House was set to leave town for its five-week summer recess — Meadows offered a motion to vacate the chair, an extraordinarily rare procedural move that represents the most serious expression of opposition to Boehner’s speakership. If the motion were to pass — most Republicans say it will be hard to cobble together the votes — Boehner would be stripped of the speaker’s gavel, potentially plunging the House of Representatives into chaos.
GOP leaders were taken completely by surprise. Meadows, a second-term Republican, hadn’t even asked for a meeting with Boehner or other top Republicans to air his gripes, Politico news website reported on Tuesday.
Until now, the North Carolina Republican had taken small steps to undermine Boehner — he voted against procedural motions and against Boehner for speaker. Now he’s declared all-out war, and he could quickly find out how many people are willing to back him up.
Meadows, however, didn’t go as far as he could have. A motion to vacate the chair — last attempted roughly a century ago — is typically considered a privileged resolution. In that format, the House would hold a vote within two legislative days. Meadows, however, chose not to offer it in that form, which he said was a sign that he wanted a discussion.
GOP leadership allies said the move suggests Meadows is trying to steal the spotlight as Congress leaves for its break. He denied that but said a vote was unlikely before the August recess.
“It’s really more about trying to have a conversation about making this place work,” Meadows said. “Hopefully we’ll have some discussions about that in the days and weeks to come. It’s more about having an inclusive process where you have debate on a regular basis, where you have open dialogue and an exchange of ideas. That’s what this is all about. This body is driven on debate and on the work on committees … and those bills or legislations should be debated based on the merit.”
Meadows’ move will undoubtedly force Republican lawmakers over the recess to answer questions about Boehner’s political problems, and possibly shift attention away from their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and other priorities.
Meadows’ move set off a frenzy of discussion within the GOP leadership. Late Tuesday evening, some of Boehner’s close allies and other figures atop the party said they thought Boehner (R-Ohio) should call up Meadows’ resolution himself, as a way to demonstrate his power and tamp down the rebellion from the right for good.
It’s unclear whether Boehner is willing to take that risky step or instead will opt to ignore the motion altogether. To be safe, Republican leadership allies were informally gathering intelligence from the rank and file late Tuesday.
Meadows, speaking to a clutch of reporters off the House floor Tuesday evening, insisted he had no beef personally with Boehner or his policies, saying his move was “procedural-driven.” Meadows lamented the “punitive culture” in the Capitol, just weeks after he overcame a leadership-backed challenge to his chairmanship of a subcommittee.
He said that “hopefully it does not have to come” to a vote to strip Boehner of the speakership.
“What I’m hopeful for is this provides the impetus to have a discussion, a family discussion, where we can start talking about how we can make sure that every voice, every vote matters and really about representing the American people,” Meadows said. “I want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.”
The antagonistic attitude toward Republican leadership is on display on both sides of the Capitol. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of lying to GOP lawmakers. Other conservative senators have forced McConnell into a series of uncomfortable votes.
Meadows’ resolution didn’t hold back.
It states that Boehner tried to “consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 members of Congress and the people they represent.” It accuses the speaker of using the “legislative calendar to create crises for the American people, in order to compel members to vote for legislation.” The resolution also charges Boehner with using the Rules Committee to limit amendments.
The “Speaker has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People,” it reads. “Whereas the Speaker uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”
Meadows and Boehner have not had a good relationship, to say the least. GOP leaders consider him an unreliable agitator. Boehner recently told colleagues that in 2013, Meadows dropped to his knees to beg the Ohio Republican for forgiveness for taking part in discussions about trying to oust him.
Meadows has also been the subject of some retribution. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah last month tried to strip Meadows — a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus — of his subcommittee gavel. But Jordan rallied conservatives and overruled Chaffetz. Meadows now praises Chaffetz for how he handled the situation.
The North Carolina congressman’s move against Boehner will likely douse any hope he has of notching legislative accomplishments in the House.
Early reviews of Meadows’ move were harsh. Republican Study Chairman Bill Flores of Texas called the move a “cheap political stunt.” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said “when you don’t raise any money, and you need a way to raise money, you do gimmicks like this.”
But Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who has repeatedly voted against Boehner, said there’s a lot of “dissatisfaction with the leadership.”
There is no obvious candidate to replace Boehner. But Meadows offered House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and GOP Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), as well as Texas Reps. Lamar Smith, Mike McCaul and Kevin Brady and Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, as alternatives.