The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The ‘Boehner for speaker’ whip count

Several GOP members of Congress have signaled in recent days that they intend to vote against John Boehner for reelection as speaker. Among them are Reps. Louie Gohmert (Tex.) and Ted Yoho (Fla.), who are offering themselves as alternatives.

This isn't without precedent. Back in January 2013, 12 House Republicans voted for someone besides Boehner, scattering their votes between everyone from a former member of Congress, Allen West, to former U.S. comptroller general David Walker.

It wasn't enough to dislodge Boehner, who still got six more votes than he needed.

He's got more room for error this time around, after Republicans gained double-digit seats in the 2014 elections. At least 29 House Republicans would have to desert Boehner for him to lose another term as speaker.

But it's also becoming evident that he'll probably lose more votes this time around.

Below, we're recapping those who have announced their opposition, along with whether they also voted against Boehner in 2013 (denoted with an *). The vote is set for Tuesday.

Voting against Boehner (15)

Said prior to 2014 election that they would vote against Boehner (2)

Voted against Boehner in 2013/haven't weighed in (1)

  • Rep. Steve Pearce (N.M.) (spokesman says he's "undecided")

Voted against Boehner in 2013/will support him (2)

So, the likely/possible votes against Boehner currently stand at 18, with 29 being the magic number.

Update: As Politico reports, at least 12 House Democrats are skipping the speaker vote to attend former New York governor Mario Cuomo's (D) funeral. That increases the threshold for pushing Boehner to a second ballot to at least 35, making him even safer.

That 35 number, we would emphasize, is a minimum. Boehner needs a majority, so if some members don't vote, Boehner's threshold for winning will be lower than the usual 218 votes — as it was in 2013, when it was 214 votes. So if some of these Boehner opponents vote for nobody — as Labrador and Mulvaney did in 2013 — that hurts Boehner less.

And of course, getting to that threshold only secures a second ballot; it does not mean Boehner will lose. That would require forcing a second ballot and then lining up behind an alternative that can get the support of the vast majority of Republicans.

Philip Bump contributed to this post.

Updated at 10:39 a.m. Tuesday with Amash and Webber as firm no's. Originally posted Monday morning.