The rank and file aren’t happy.
A minimutiny may be underway in the House of Representatives as another conservative has come out to announce that he will oppose Rep. John Boehner in his re-election bid as House speaker.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine did not mince words in his press release Friday, titled “I Will Not Vote for John Boehner.” In the brief statement, the Oklahoma Republican complained that Mr. Boehner joined forces with President Obama on the $1.1 trillion budget bill known as the CR/Omnibus, which he said “blocked our newest elected Republicans from advancing conservative policy and delivering on campaign promises.”
“With this vote, Republicans gave away the best tool available to rein in our liberal activist President: the power of the purse. The power of the purse is Congress’ Constitutional strength,” Mr. Bridenstine wrote.
While his statement bashed the president, not the speaker, Mr. Bridenstine wrote that Mr. Boehner’s support for a bad bill makes him unqualified for the top House post.
“The CR/Omnibus legislation sufficiently undermines the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution that it warrants my pending vote against the Speaker. Speaker Boehner went too far when he teamed with Obama to advance this legislation. He relinquished the power of the purse, and with it he lost my vote.”
Mr. Bridenstine said the results of the 2014 midterms, when Republicans took over the Senate and built their largest majority in the House since before World War II, should have been a clear message to Mr. Boehner that liberal policies like Obamacare and amnesty for illegal aliens are contrary to where the American public stands.
“This is unconscionable after watching the campaign rhetoric that won such decisive victories for the GOP,” he said.
His defection brings ups the number of lawmakers who have vowed not to support Mr. Boehner. Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida said Saturday night that he might run for speaker.
“The American people have spoken loud and clear by their choice to elect conservative Representatives to serve them in Washington,” Mr. Yoho said. “It’s our turn now, as Members of the People’s House, to echo their demands by electing a new Speaker. The American people have allowed us to choose who is best suited to lead the House by electing a deep bench of diverse and qualified members. Our Republic is built on choice, and if needed, I would stand up to give our members that option.”
Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky also said Saturday that he won’t support Mr. Boehner, citing the Speaker’s broken vow to allow lawmakers 72 hours to read enormous bills and his push for the CR/Omnibus bill. Mr. Massie said that Mr. Boehner “schedule[d] a fiscal crisis in a lame-duck session on the last legislative day before Christmas to get maximum leverage over rank and file members” and then worked to “mislead members into thinking that a vote on an unpopular bill was postponed, only to then conduct a rushed voice vote on the $10 billion unfunded spending measure with fewer than a dozen members present.”
And Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas on Sunday announced he, too, would be running for speaker, also citing the CR/Omnibus bill. But he said he’d be happy if anyone but Mr. Boehner won.
“At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate. It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November,” Mr. Gohmert said.
Another Republican, Rep. Walter C. Jones of North Carolina, said there are up to 18 conservatives who are looking for an alternative to Mr. Boehner. In 2013, there were nine Republicans who didn’t vote for Mr. Boehner.
Mr. Gohmert said there is “false information being floated that any Republican candidates in addition to the current speaker will split the vote and give the speaker’s gavel to” California Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
“This is nothing but a scare tactic to keep the current regime in power,” he said, noting that 59 Republicans would have to vote “present” for that to happen.
Mr. Obama has been eating Mr. Boehner’s lunch for years. Early on, the president got the speaker to agree to $500 billion in new taxes. Then, in a White House meeting, Mr. Obama doubled that amount. Mr. Boehner balked, and walked.
But as he drove back to the Capitol, Mr. Obama held a hastily scheduled press conference to announce that Mr. Boehner had walked away from “The Grand Bargain.” Pwned.
After that, Mr. Boehner vowed to never again deal with Mr. Obama, a pathological liar, but the speaker has, time and again. Now, the rank and file of the GOP are wondering if they could do better than Mr. Boehner.
If it happens, it’ll happen fast — and behind the scenes. But this time, there’s a real feeling in the Capitol that anything could happen.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.