WASHINGTON—House Republicans re-elected John Boehner (R., Ohio) for a third term as House speaker on Tuesday over the objections of a band of frustrated conservatives lobbying for a new leader.
Senior Republicans expressed some frustration that internal GOP dissent was grabbing the headlines on the first day of the 114th Congress.
Mr. Boehner, 65 years old, faced more opposition from his party’s right flank than in years past, but not enough to oust him from the House’s top post. After being selected among House Republicans for the post in November, he was officially re-elected in a floor roll-call vote, as the new Congress—now fully controlled by Republicans—convened on Tuesday.
Conservatives defecting from Mr. Boehner said they objected to how he ran the House, faulting him for hashing out too many deals behind closed doors and not giving lawmakers enough time to read legislation before voting.
Even some of the most conservative House Republicans voted for Mr. Boehner, citing the party’s victories in last fall’s midterm election that gave the GOP control of the Senate and expanded the House’s Republican majority.
“I’ve had my differences with the speaker, but I plan to support him,” Rep. John Fleming (R., La.) said before the vote. “He led us through a period where we’ve increased our majority, substantially.”
In November’s midterm election, House Republicans won 247 seats, their largest majority in decades. After the resignation of Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), effective Monday, Republicans control 246 of the chamber’s 435 seats. Read the rest of this entry »
Robert Costa writes: On most weekday mornings, House Republicans huddle in a windowless room in the Capitol basement. Over pastries and coffee, they confer with the leadership and discuss strategy. Sometimes they complain; sometimes they cheer. This past week, it’s been more of the former. As the tensions grow, the GOP’s internal debate can seem like a circus — the tea party vs. establishment. But behind the scenes, House Republicans are more nuanced than that caricature.
1. House Republicans want to default.
When they’re on the cable news shows, House Republicans can sound aggressive and unyielding about the upcoming debt limit; they won’t extend the federal government’s borrowing limit, they often say, unless Democrats make major concessions. This public, tough-talking stance, though, is only part of the story. House Speaker John A. Boehner privately reassured colleagues on Thursday that he won’t let the nation default, and within the inner sanctum of the House GOP, he has never promoted missing the deadline.
Instead, Boehner is struggling to balance his right flank’s appetite for brinkmanship with his desire to cut a deal that’s palatable to conservatives. To do that, he frequently shies away from publicly conceding any ground. But he and the Republican leadership aren’t eager to be blamed for economic chaos and risk their party’s House majority in next year’s midterms.
So don’t read too much into the fight-till-the-death posturing of the House’s debt-limit warriors. They have influence but not total say. Look for smaller clues — Boehner’s closed-door meetings, the chatter about a larger fiscal package — as evidence of how the impasse will probably end: with an eleventh-hour, smaller compromise that Boehner has been slowly but surely shepherding.