You didn’t hear it here first, but I will admit defeat. Boehner was re-elected, though by a razor-thin two vote margin. There were several defections among the Republicans, mostly right-wingers who voted for someone more conservative, leaving Boehner with barely enough.
Many commentators think Boehner will need to move to the right in order to keep his right-wing support from eroding further, but I see hope in the fact that the fiscal cliff aversion bill passed at the last minute was approved in the House mostly by Democrats. It allowed the right-wing not to vote for it while avoiding a public relations disaster for the Republican Party as a whole.
I will keep blogging about this issue, because a Speaker can be unseated mid-term, and a new Speaker elected. Things could change if this Congress is unable to get needed legislation passed.
On January 3rd when the new Congress is sworn in, there will be 201 Democrats and 234 Republicans. If John Boehner is re-elected Speaker, he will likely continue to run the House according to the Hastert Rule. (See NYT series of postings, Debt Reckoning, see the posting at Dec 12 at 12:32pm.) The Hastert Rule means that the Republican Speaker will not bring to a vote any bill unless it has the support of a majority of Republicans.
Half of the 234 Republicans is 117, so the 117 most conservative members of the House, only 27% of the total House membership, can stop any compromise legislation that has been negotiated with the Senate and the White House. That’s why Boehner has such a hard time compromising with President Obama.
I now have four videos posted online with more to come. These use commentary and graphics to describe how John Boehner can be defeated and a more moderate Speaker elected.
Video #1: Introduction to idea of a compromise Speaker
Video #2: How moderate Republicans could be convinced to form a coalition
Video #3: Explains the problem with the current power structure in the House
Video #4: A comedic approach to explaining the issues.
This is the original opinion piece I wrote on this topic back in early November. I was trying to get it published in a major newspaper or on a major web site, but to no avail. So you can read it here instead….
As the post-election talk of bipartisan compromise rapidly degenerates into the usual intractable positions, Washington is assuming that the House leadership will remain unchanged. John Boehner may have enough Republican support to remain the Speaker under nominal circumstances, but there may be another possibility.
I wrote a few days ago about how the Democrats in the House, with help from President Obama, could convince 20 or so Republicans to join them in a ruling coalition. Today I found a perfect example of how this would work. In fact, the exact thing happened just the other day in a little town called Albany.
John Boehner is the Speaker of the House. He was elected to that post by the Republicans who won a majority of House seats in the 2010 elections. Now that the House has remained in Republican control, most people expect Boehner to retain the speakership. But there’s a special opportunity this time around for something different to happen.
The Democrats have gained about eight seats in the recent elections and now they are only 17 votes short of a majority in the House. If 17 moderate Republicans can be persuaded to vote with the Democrats to elect a moderate Speaker, that would change how Washington works over the next two years.