Bridenstine votes against Boehner for speaker

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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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3 Comments

I was glad to see Bridenstine do it. That took a ton of guts to do, especially for a freshman; a good start. Wish Mullin, the other freshman representative from Oklahoma, had taken the same stand on principle (on the campaign trail, he railed against Boehner as being "institutionalized", and indicated that he would vote against him).

Graychin said:

So Boehner was able to win a narrow victory in which his only opponent was... himself? He may well have lost his gavel if anyone had found the cajones to oppose him. But no one did. Perhaps because no one else wanted the job of trying to herd those Tea Party cats.

My favorite Boehner moment (so far) occurred the night of the final House vote on Obamacare. In apparent response to Obama's campaign theme of "Yes we can," Boehner shouted angrily from the Speaker's post in the House: "HELL NO YOU CAN'T!"

Let's face it - Boehner has been an exceptionally weak and ineffective Speaker. Perhaps it's only because of the hand he's been dealt. But it's looking like the 113th Congress may be able to outdo even the do-nothing 112th in its dysfunction. They're already threatening to deny the government its ability to pay bills already incurred. What will that do to interest rates on Treasuries, and how will that affect the budget deficits that they say they care about?

Even former bomb-thrower turned (in his own eyes) elder Republican statesman Newt Gingrich now says that destroying America's credit and similar brinksmanship is bad policy. I guess he learned that the hard way.

A major political party in a civilized society does not threaten societal destruction as a means of getting its way. That's a tool favored only by terrorists and anarchists, and those types continue to prove that they aren't any good at governing. You know, at taking any "actual responsibility." I'm looking at you, Mr. Bridenstine.

As for Bridenstine, it looks like he's going to position himself as one of those perpetual outsiders like Ron Paul or Louis Gomert, a voice crying in the wilderness but (mixing my literary references) signifying nothing. Accomplishing nothing. Not a team player. Last chosen for worthwhile committee assignments. Death before compromise. I guess it's to be expected of him, since Tulsa Republicans found John Sullivan to be too liberal for their tastes.

(You must have the world's hardest Captchas. Maybe third time will be the charm.)

David Van Author Profile Page said:

It brings back memories of the great principled stands that Largent and Coburn were legendary for.
Joe Scarborough recounted one of the instances....

Joe:
"But don't try to tell that to the same suck-ups who blasted me during the Newt wars. They will tell you that conservatives should look away when Republicans set records for federal spending, national deficits and spiraling debts. They will tell you that even though we criticized Bill Clinton for ignoring his generals' advice, we should give George W. Bush a free pass for doing the same thing 10 years later. And if we are truly loyal party members, we should attack those generals as defeatists.
Well, it's all too much for me. I thank God for conservatives like Largent, Coburn and those who entered Congress in 1994. I thank God for Ronald Reagan's daring to take on a bloated party establishment in 1976. How funny that Reagan saved the same party that despised him for taking on a sitting president.
Party types called Reagan a traitor in 1976 for daring to buck the political establishment. But the way I see it, the Gipper showed loyalty by telling the truth and making his party better. Four years later, the Reagan Revolution was lodged because of his courage.
We need more Reagans today."

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 4, 2013 1:41 AM.

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