In a surprise to no one, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, held onto his post as House speaker when he was re-elected by a majority of the body Tuesday despite three protest challenges from his right. Anger from Tea Party Republicans against Boehner boiled over after he agreed to a deal with Democrats last month to fund the government, including President Barack Obama's health care law, until September.
The speaker's adversaries needed to turn 30 Republicans against Boehner to prevent him from winning a majority on the first vote to lead the 114th Congress. But Boehner received 216 votes -- 11 more than he needed to retain the speakership.
In a speech to House members shortly after his election, Boehner said while the economy has shown signs of improvement, too many Americans are out of work and those with jobs are losing ground to stagnant wages and rising costs. "We can do better," he said.
The inability of Boehner’s conservative opponents to unite behind a single candidate contributed to the Ohio Republican’s re-election. Boehner faced challenges from Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho and Daniel Webster of Florida. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was the choice of Democrats, but had no chance of becoming speaker since her party only has 188 House seats compared to the GOP’s 246. Most importantly, Boehner benefited by having the largest GOP majority of his tenure, meaning he could weather defections while retaining his speakership, the Washington Post noted.
The House’s most conservative members have wanted to punish Obama for his recent executive actions on immigration that protect up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation and were unsatisfied with the budget deal Boehner reached last year with the president and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Tea Party Republicans wanted more severe consequences for Obama, such as another government shutdown.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who nominated Webster for speaker, said in a post on conservative news site Breitbart.com that Boehner didn’t stick up for the Tea Party wing of the GOP in its fights with Obama. “We need a speaker who will help us all keep our oath, including his own, to the Constitution, not one who has consistently blocked our efforts to keep ours. I will vote for an alternative candidate for speaker. I can’t vote for John Boehner again,” he wrote.