The Hill: Democrats Stand Behind Boehner

Once again more proof that Establishment Republicans and Democrats are two wings of the same bird of prey!

Dems vow to protect Boehner from conservative coup

By Mike Lillis, The Hill, March 6, 2015

Tea Party Republicans contemplating a bid to oust Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) shouldn’t count on Democrats to help them unseat the Speaker.

And without their support, there is no chance to topple Boehner in this Congress.

A number of right-wing Republicans, long wary of Boehner’s commitment to GOP efforts attacking President Obama’s policy priorities, have openly considered a coup in an attempt to transfer the gavel into more conservative hands.

But Democrats from across an ideological spectrum say they’d rather see Boehner remain atop the House than replace him with a more conservative Speaker who would almost certainly be less willing to reach across the aisle in search of compromise. Replacing him with a Tea Party Speaker, they say, would only bring the legislative process — already limping along — to a screeching halt.

“I’d probably vote for Boehner [because] who the hell is going to replace him? [Ted] Yoho?” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said Wednesday, referencing the Florida Tea Party Republican who’s fought Boehner on a host of bipartisan compromise bills.

“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,” Pascrell added.

Liberal Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) agreed that, for Democrats, replacing Boehner could lead to a worse situation.

“Then we would get Scalise or somebody? Geez, come on,” said Grijalva, who referenced House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). “We can be suicidal but not stupid.”

Boehner, who has grappled with dissent from the Tea Party wing since he took the Speaker’s gavel in 2011, has seen opposition to his reign grow this year, even as he commands the largest GOP majority since the Hoover administration.

That’s led to talk of a new coup, something that is more difficult to pull off after the election of a Speaker on each Congress’s first day of business.

Any lawmaker can file a motion to “vacate” a sitting Speaker, a move that would force a vote of the full House. The effort would almost certainly fail, as the conservatives would need the overwhelming support of Democrats to win a majority. But it would be an embarrassing setback to Boehner and his leadership team, who entered the year hoping their commanding new majority would alleviate some of the whipping problems that had plagued them in the past.

The new push back against Boehner began in the earliest stages of the new Congress when 25 conservatives voted in January to strip him of the Speaker’s gavel.

Boehner’s troubles have only mounted since then, as conservatives have thwarted a number of his early legislative priorities, including a border security bill, an anti-abortion measure and a proposal to limit the federal government’s role in public education — all considered by GOP leaders to be easy-pass bills that would highlight their new power in Obama’s final two years in the White House.

More recently, Boehner’s decision this week to pass a “clean” bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has exacerbated conservatives’ concerns about his leadership.

As proof of the discontent, 167 Republicans bucked their leadership by opposing the DHS package. Their votes protested Boehner’s move to strip out provisions undoing Obama’s executive actions shielding millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. from deportation.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) called Boehner’s capitulation “a sad day for America.”

“If we aren’t going to fight now, when are we going to fight?” he said Tuesday just before the vote.

Every Democrat joined 75 Republicans in passing the bill.

In the midst of that debate, a number of Tea Party Republicans warned that they’d consider an attempt to topple Boehner if he caved to Obama’s demand for a clean DHS bill.

“If it happened, conservatives would be outraged,” said one such conservative who voted against Boehner in January. The lawmaker predicted that the coup attempt might not come immediately but warned the Speaker, “It’s a long year.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus and a critic of Boehner’s legislative moves, said recently that no coup is in the works.

“That’s not the point,” Jordan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “The point is to do what we told the voters we were going to do and do it in a way that’s consistent with the United States Constitution.”

Citing Jordan’s comments, top Democrats have punted on the question of whether they would support a coup. Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, acknowledged that there are “some disgruntled people who are talking about it,” but predicted that no such effort will materialize.

“If Jordan’s not talking about — he’s the head of the Freedom Caucus — it’s not going to happen,” Hoyer said this week.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, suggested the Democratic minority simply has no place deciding the Speakership for the majority.

“If they’ve got the votes to make it happen, then they should act accordingly. But I would not want Democrats to be a part of that,” Butterfield said. “I would give deference to the choice of the Republicans.”

Still, some Democrats noted the political advantages for their party if the Republican divisions reach the point where Boehner is ousted. The Democrats have almost no shot of winning back the House in 2016 but highlighting the GOP turmoil could help them bite away at the Republicans’ majority.

“I think it would pose a real existential dilemma for us,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). “I mean, on the one hand, if you have a chance to take out a Republican Speaker, why wouldn’t you do that? On the other hand, if the obvious alternative is a Tea Party Speaker, now you’ve got to worry not only about your own political situation but frankly about the institution.

“I think that would give very serious pause to the Democrats.”

Other Democrats suggested they would side with Boehner for one simple reason: They’re hoping to move bipartisan legislation this Congress and see Boehner as a more moderate leader with a penchant for compromise.

“Personally, I don’t want to waste two years,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said Wednesday. “And I think that the crazy Tea Party type would probably not be willing to work with us on anything.

“My hope is that, what comes out of this is that Boehner realizes that there are some people in his caucus who are unreasonable, and you can never get them to say ‘yes’ to anything,” McGovern added. “Rather than spending so much time agonizing over how to please them, maybe he just ought to focus on how you build more bipartisan coalitions and actually get some things done.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has declined to weigh in on the conservatives’ discontent. Hinting at her own radioactive image in the eyes of Republicans, she vowed not to get involved in the debate.

“I don’t have any intention of getting involved in the politics of that Caucus,” she said recently. “They have enough trouble getting along with each other. I don’t think I should inject myself into that.”

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Comments

  1. michaelw says:

    Yep, the lines are becoming more and more blurred, it is hard to tell the difference between established democrats and established republicans. The democrats always state that only established republicans are willing to compromise to get things done. But the democrats are only willing to compromise when it pushes forward their liberal agenda and they can keep the printing press going down at the treasury. This scenario will play out again in the next few days when we again raise the debt ceiling so the government doesn’t go broke. Well here is a news flash to the geniuses in Washington, you have gotten us 18 trillion in debt, we are already broke.

  2. I suppose that the Democrats consider Mr. Boehner to be the lessor of two evils–politically speaking. “Replacing him with a Tea Party Speaker, they say, would only bring the legislative process — already limping along — to a screeching halt.” In listening to his detractors, it’s hard to believe that just 20 years ago he was part of the Gingrich Revolution which implemented the Contract for America.

  3. William Smith says:

    The problem is not that Boehner has stayed too long, but that Boehner is one of the grown-ups in the Republican caucus who knows you can’t refuse to fund DHS, that you cannot shut the government down by refusing to raise the debt limit, and sooner or later something will have to be done about immigration, and that not possible now to repeal Obamacare, and that, if the Court gives the chance for Congress to do something, then Obamacare will have to be replaced. But there are those who would rather pull the house down on the whole Party and its prospects than to cooperate with and follow the Speaker. There could have been some accomplishments this year. But there are those who have tried to force battles that were sure to be lost and who have refused to take victories in hand. If you want to jump up and down because you are mad, of course you can do that, even though it accomplishes nothing . But if you are in a leadership position you don’t get that luxury because yhou hav to lead.

  4. MichaelW says:

    The Republicans have been in charge of the House and Senate since the 1st of the year. I would like to know one major battle that they have won since taking power and if there are none then what is the time table for taking action on the major battles. When is it, when we have enough votes to override a veto, when we get a Republican President, when the country is Bankrupt, when we can get enough democrats to go along with anything. I know you have to have leaders who make tough decisions, but I also know that sometimes leaders have to battle and do some arm twisting to accomplice a reasonable agenda. The problem seems to be that we don’t seem to see the fight in our so called entrenched Republican leaders who are suppose to be for less government and lower taxes but their actons don’t seem to reflect this idea. If it is a tough problem, we just kick the can down the road for another day while the Dem’s and Lib’s have their way until the point becomes moot due to time and we just crank up the printing press to cover the bill for a continuing liberal agenda. Where do we draw the line, when we are 30 trillion in debt, how about 50 trillion in debt, even better a 100 trillion in debt and that will take care of everyone’s needs and wants. This sounds foolish doesn’t it, well so does the idea of the United States Government being 18 trillion in debt with an economy such as ours. Mismanagement, you betcha. You can fuss about conservatives and tea partiers all you want but the truth of the matter is that the only ones who have been in charge is Democrats and Republicans and most of them for way too long judging by the results that we have gotten from them. If the entrenched members of the House and Senate had been managing the affairs of the people as they should, then there would be no need for conservatives or tea partiers or any other group to step forward to help save the country that they love from being overrun by the money and power hungry mongers who live amongst us disguised as public servants.

    • Hey Michael: Newt Gingrich will tell you that he fell for that same trap in the 1990s when he was Speaker while dealing with Bill Clinton. By sticking to conservative principles, the blame for that government shutdown was laid squarely at the feet of the Congressional Republicans. Boehner knows that as a direct result of that miscalculation by the GOP, we lost our congressional majority in the next election cycle, and did not regain it again until November, 2014–twenty years later! He is not about to go down that road again no matter how pissy the Tea Party Patriots may get. Since McConnell could not obtain cloture in the Senate on the immigration issue, it served no useful purpose as responsible stewards of the public trust for Boehner to have a final vote on anything but a clean DHS bill which the President will pass the Senate and the President will sign into law.

  5. William Smith says:

    Give us the plan. You’re speaker. Tell us what you would have done for far and what victories you would have to show for your efforts.

  6. michaelw says:

    I can assure you I would have at least made the effort instead of doing nothing. All of these house members from both parties will need his support somewhere down the line and as speaker he could chose 1 or 2 major battles and he could do a lot of arm twisting to possibly get something major accomplished. If we take your advise and continue to do nothing, guess what changes? Nothing. Don’t tell me that you can’t get support from the democrats, they get it from republicans like ole Thad all the time.

  7. William Smith says:

    Here’s what you said: “I don’t like the way Boehner has done it. As to what I would have done, I can’t say except that I would have had some more fights with Obama and the Democrats and would have twisted some more arms.” What you did not say was (1) Which battles would you fight? (2) Which Democrat arms would you have successfully twisted? What incentives could you offer to bring them to vote with you? (3) What victories do you think you would yhave to show for your fights? Now let me ask two specific questions: (1) Would you have refused to fund DHS and shut down DHS? (2) Will you refuse to increase the debt limit and would you shut down the government rather than raise the debt limit?

  8. William Smith says:

    Rep. Trey Gowdy defended Team Boehner.

    “There’s a reason very few people raise their hands and ask to be in leadership,” said the South Carolina Republican, who heads the Special Committee on Benghazi. “It’s much easier where I sit to just second guess what other people do. So I have a tendency to blame the inmates more than the warden.”

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