In a surprise move, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sought to oust Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) from his leadership post on Tuesday by declaring the office of the speaker of the House “vacant.”
In a blistering resolution, Meadows slammed Boehner for causing the “power of Congress to atrophy” and using his office to “punish members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.” The measure was referred to the Rules Committee, aides said.
If the North Carolina Republican’s challenge is successful, it would force a new election for speaker — something that hasn’t even been attempted for 105 years and has never succeeded, reports the Post’s Mike DeBonis. Meadows said on Tuesday that he wouldn’t press for a vote before Congress leaves town for the August recess.
But in a talk-radio interview Tuesday night, Meadows predicted the House GOP leadership would call lawmakers and drum up a Wednesday vote to save Boehner.
“They will call most of the members tonight and try to bring this up and have a vote on it tomorrow [Wednesday],” Meadows told host Mark Levin, admitting that tactic was only one that Boehner’s team could employ.
“These will be very difficult days. It will not come without retribution and that’s to be understood.”
It’s certainly in the interest of Boehner’s team quash any rebellious sentiment that could grow over the August recess.
One of Boehner’s staunchest House critics, Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.), suggested that anti-Boehner Republicans might be trying to gin up support among conservative media — a drumbeat that could get louder while lawmakers are home in their districts.
“I hope the talk show hosts who are so frustrated would pick up on this thing and beat the drum so loud that other members feel like they can be encouraged to join this effort to change the leadership of the House,” Jones said, according to DeBonis.
DeBonis added that Meadow’s motion, however, is unlikely to succeed unless Democrats joined with a small faction of Republicans to try and topple Boehner — and Democrats have suggested they aren’t interested in such a move.
Meadows’s claims reflect a longstanding critique of Boehner’s leadership among House conservatives.
The North Carolina Republican was recently pushed out of his position as chairman of House Oversight’s Government Operations subcommittee for defying leadership on a procedural vote related to the trade debate, though he regained the position within a week.
The resolution filed Tuesday afternoon contained eight complaints against Boehner. Meadows argued that the speaker seeks to “consolidate power and centralize decision-making,” manipulates the House’s calendar to “create crises for the American people, in order to compel members to vote for legislation,” and limits debate and amendments on the floor.
The idea of a resolution to “vacate the office of the Speaker” has circulated in conservative circles for some time.
“House conservatives get a do-over. House Rules provide a privileged (meaning it takes precedence over other business) resolution to vacate the office of the Speaker. It can be offered by any Member. It would be a simple majority vote. If the entire House was voting, 28 Members would be needed to depose Boehner with all of the Democrats. Once vacated, a new Speaker election would ensue,” RedState Editor Erick Erickson wrote in a blog post on March 6.
A spokeswoman for Boehner declined to comment on the resolution.