Tags: Tea Party | Dan Webster | Boehner | house | speaker | GOP | revolt

Dan Webster: Boehner Should Open Speaker Process to More Members

By    |   Monday, 19 January 2015 06:31 AM

Two weeks after a boomlet among his fellow conservatives in the House made Rep. Dan Webster the Republican with the most votes for speaker against John Boehner, the Florida lawmaker said that "more members should be included in the process" to "enhance our leadership."

"If we can prove we can lead, then we can govern," Webster said of the Republican majority in the House, which reached its highest number of members since 1928 following the elections last November.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax on Friday, Webster — a three-term House member and a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives — recalled how he decided to become a candidate against Boehner on the morning of the vote for speaker on Jan. 6.

"I never called anyone," he told us, adding that fellow conservative GOP Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and Steve King  of Iowa had been urging him to make the race "for a long time."

However, where Jones, King, and other Republican lawmakers disappointed with Boehner had held two meetings to discuss an opponent in 2014, Webster said he participated in just one session and he never advanced the idea of becoming a candidate for speaker himself.

But the Floridian had attracted attention from colleagues with a white paper he wrote last year for the conservative Republican Study Committee. Entitled "Widgets, Principles, and Republicans," Webster likened the problem with the GOP brand nationwide to a manufacturer of flawed widgets who needs to fix the process by which his product is made.

"The owners could choose to make significant alterations by offering additional colors, new packaging, and special pricing," he wrote. "They could also employ new marketing techniques, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Although well-intentioned, none of these improvements will fix the flawed product.

"It is the process by which the widgets are made that is flawed."

Webster believes that he and his colleagues should be "looking for principle and not power," that "they and their ideas should be more included in the process," and "House leaders should remember that every member ought to have a chance to succeed. I’m uncomfortable with people around here falling on their swords."

Along with his advocacy of altering the process by which the House brings legislation to the floor and votes on it, Webster’s background as the Sunshine State’s first Republican speaker since Reconstruction made him attractive to conservatives as a candidate against Boehner.

"When I became speaker [in 1996], we enacted procedures that I would like to see here," he said, "Specifically, we became member-based, not speaker-based, and included more members in the formulation of legislation and the regulation of order."

Webster was speaker when a Democrat, the late Lawton Chiles, was governor, and, he proudly noted, the work of the Republican-run House helped pave the way for the landslide election of Republican Jeb Bush as governor in 1998.

Some time after his "Widgets" article was published, Webster said, "Walter [Jones] asked me to 'think about doing it.'"

On the morning of the vote, he told us, "I finally told [colleagues] 'I’m going to do it.'" Friend Jones immediately let the press (including Newsmax) know Webster was the candidate to keep an eye on in the vote for speaker by the full House.

He was. Of the 25 votes cast by House Republicans against Boehner, Webster drew 12, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert three, Reps. Ted Yoho of Florida and Jim Jordan of Ohio two each. Six more votes were cast for other candidates or simply "present."

"The goal of [the Boehner opponents] was not to elect a particular candidate but to get to a second ballot," said Webster. "Anything can happen then, we felt."

Since Boehner got a majority of the votes of the members present (216 out of 408) in the full House, he was re-elected speaker on the third ballot.

The Florida lawmaker also dismissed complaints on the right that Boehner’s failure to reappoint Webster to the House Rules Committee, along with fellow Florida Rep. Richard Nugent (who also voted for Webster over Boehner), was punishment from the speaker for their insurgency.

"I talked to the speaker in his office after the vote and we had a very good conversation," he told us. "He said some of the things I want to see changed in the House he agreed with. But the Rules Committee is the speaker’s committee, not member-driven."

There are nine Republicans on Rules, which sets the schedule for House business. As of this week, the panel has seven Republican members because Webster and Nugent have yet to be replaced.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Two weeks after a boomlet among his fellow conservatives in the House made Rep. Dan Webster the Republican with the most votes for speaker against John Boehner, the Florida lawmaker said that more members should be included in the process "to enhance our leadership."
Dan Webster, Boehner, house, speaker, GOP, revolt, conservatives
Monday, 19 January 2015 06:31 AM
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