Boehner retaliates against House rebels
Within hours of being re-elected speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner took his revenge on some of the more prominent Republicans who challenged his leadership and authority.
One target for punishment was Florida Congressman Daniel Webster who received the most votes in opposition to Boehner. He was unceremoniously tossed from his seat on the powerful Rules Committee. His Florida colleague Patrick Nugent was also dumped from the committee.
After he secured his third term as speaker Tuesday afternoon, losing 25 votes on the House floor to some relative-unknown members of the Republican Conference, Boehner moved swiftly to boot two of the insurgents from the influential Rules Committee. That could be just the start of payback for the speaker’s betrayers, who might see subcommittee chairmanships and other perks fall away in the coming months.
Boehner’s allies have thirsted for this kind of action from the speaker, saying he’s let people walk all over him for too long and is too nice to people who are eager to stab him in the back. The removal of Florida Reps. Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent from Rules was meant as a clear demonstration that what Boehner and other party leaders accepted during the last Congress is no longer acceptable, not with the House’s biggest GOP majority in decades.
The reason for dethroning the two Florida Republicans was simple: Webster ran against Boehner for speaker, distributing fliers outlining his candidacy and talking about how he would better adhere to the House rules than the Ohio Republican. Nugent supported his fellow Floridian in the quixotic endeavor, which garnered the support of 12 lawmakers. Webster didn’t even give Boehner a heads-up that he was running, although leadership was aware early Tuesday morning that it could happen.
With Webster openly offering himself as an alternative to Boehner, the GOP leadership thought seats on the Rules Committee were a plum that the pair no longer deserved. It didn’t take more than a few hours for Webster – a legendary former Florida statehouse speaker and state Senate majority leader – and Nugent to find themselves on the outside of a power structure they were once very much a part of.
Members are already making noises about reversing any punitive action by Boehner and the leadership, although the speaker’s allies warn that further retaliation could be on the way.
Also, Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp had the chairmanship of a subcommittee yanked in retribution for his vote against Boehner.
All of this came about after Boehner continually assured the caucus that there would be no retaliation against members who opposed him. This makes him a liar as well as the weakest speaker in many years.
Small minded and petty, Boehner should be asking himself what kind of "victory" he won when most House Republicans can't stand him and, if there had been a viable alternative, he might have even lost.