Boehner's Allies Plot Tea Party Crackdown

Thursday, 29 May 2014 08:02 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Allies of House Speaker John Boehner are closing ranks to thwart any possible challenge to his leadership by tea party colleagues who may be looking for a shake-up.

According to Politico, a group, including fellow Ohio GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, is convening to discuss strategies that would punish members who do not support the party's nominee during a floor vote, such as withdrawing membership on certain committees.

Some are also considering putting out a letter with the names of dozens of lawmakers pledging to vote only for the 64-year-old, thereby removing the possibility of a conservative rival getting elected.

The effort among the GOP establishment is the latest attempt to signal its dominance in the battle with tea party forces which broke-out during the government shutdown last year and is continuing to play out in the primaries.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

It is also an attempt to quell speculation about plans for Boehner to retire, while solidifying his authority over the conference.

While the leadership contest is eight months away, allies want to get an early start to prevent a repeat of 2013 when Boehner's leadership was challenged after a dozen conservatives chose other Republicans during the leadership vote, Politico reported.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, told Politico that Boehner "has said repeatedly he expects to be speaker in the next Congress, so when the House Republican team meets after the election, he hopes and expects he will be their choice for speaker, and once that decision is made, that the team will vote for him on the floor in January."

Boehner plans to play a large role in the election, and if the House picks up the predicted five to 12 seats, he could count it another success of his leadership.

Meanwhile, at least 12 lawmakers who voted against Boehner will be leaving Congress at the end of this term, and some who are staying have shifted their loyalties in favor of him, according to Politico.

Regardless, unseating any incumbent speaker is difficult, Politico noted, given the voting procedures which start with a closed meeting by secret ballot in which one must secure one vote more than half. Then a floor vote follows, with the successful nominee requiring 218 votes to win.

Separately, potential opponents appear disorganized, and no obvious candidate has emerged to take on Boehner, Politico reported. And with the leadership taking early action to gain open support for Boehner, it appears they are looking for possible opponents to show their cards early as well.

"If you disagree with a play call, you say so in the huddle," said one GOP leadership aide aligned with Boehner, according to Politico. "You don't go your own way on the field."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

Related stories:

Cantor Seeking Speaker's Seat, Angers Conservative Colleagues
Eric Cantor's Path to Speaker's Job Opens Up

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