Bridenstine votes against Boehner for speaker
Color me surprised and impressed.
Newly sworn-in Oklahoma 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine was one of 12 Republicans who did not vote to re-elect incumbent Speaker of the House John Boehner. (I exclude Boehner from that number, as the sitting speaker customarily does not vote.) Bridenstine and two other congressmen, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Ted Yoho of Florida voted for Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Paul Broun of Georgia and Louie Gohmert of Texas voted for former Congressman Allen West. (The Speaker does not have to be a member of the House.) Tim Huelskamp of Kansas voted for Jim Jordan of Ohio. Justin Amash of Michigan voted for Raul Labrador of Idaho. Thomas Massie of Kentucky voted for Amash. Walter Jones of North Carolina voted for David Walker. Steve Stockman of Texas answered "present." Boehner, Labrador, and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina did not vote.
Bridenstine was the only dissenter from the Oklahoma delegation. Markwayne Mullin, Frank Lucas, Tom Cole, and James Lankford all voted for Boehner.
Boehner had a very slim majority of 220. Had four more Republicans abstained or not voted for Boehner, he would not have had the majority required for election. (I'm assuming Boehner would have cast the winning vote for himself had it been necessary.)
On the Democratic side of the aisle, 192 members voted for former speaker Nancy Pelosi, 5 voted for other candidates (Jim Cooper, John Lewis, John Dingell, Colin Powell), and 3 did not vote.
The consensus among conservative commentators and activists was that Boehner was in over his head in negotiating with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and needed to be replaced. There were reports that sufficient numbers of Republican House members were prepared to vote to deprive him of another term as speaker. Nevertheless, Boehner successfully whipped the vote, twisting arms according to dissenter Tim Huelskamp:
However, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told Human Events after the vote that "arm twisting" on Boehner's behalf was "very intense" with threats that Republicans would lose plum committee assignments or campaign donations from the National Republican Congressional Committee if they opposed the speaker's reelection.
Huelskamp is one of four Republican lawmakers who lost key committee assignments recently for reportedly voting against issues that were important to Boehner.
"The intimidation and pressure was intense, there are a lot of people that wanted to vote no and today, the last call, the last twisting of arms, convinced them not to do that," Huelskamp said.
"And certainly my vote was one of no confidence. I want conservative leadership, and that has not been provided by the speaker," Huelskamp said.
Asked specifically who was intimidated to cast their votes for Boehner, Huelskamp declined to name names.
Huelskamp did add that one freshman lawmaker was called prior to the vote and told their committee seat was "probably gone if you vote your conscience."
Bridenstine's vote suggests that his campaign rhetoric was not mere posturing. While it may be costly in the short run -- watch to see if he loses his seat on the House Armed Services Committee -- it may also establish him as a rallying point for dissenters when Boehner stumbles again in negotiations over the debt ceiling and sequestration. The stand of 12 dissenters now may encourage more to join them.
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