Report: Boehner avoiding vote on his speakership before August recess

Rep. Mark Meadows put John Boehner on the spot with his “motion to vacate” the speakership last week, and now it appears that the challenge has legs.  According to an exclusive report by Matthew Boyle of Breitbart, Boehner’s forces have been “whipping” members (calling them up, asking them how they would vote, and possibly applying pressure) and as a result have concluded that they would lose a vote if the matter were taken up before the August recess.

“[House Majority Leader Kevin] McCarthy was making phone calls—he was whipping it—and so was [House Majority Whip] Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA),” a senior conservative movement leader who’s had many personal and direct discussions with various House GOP members about this told Breitbart News in an interview last week.

“I know members personally who were called by Steve Scalise. So they had the entire leadership whip team frantically making phone calls to members to whip the vote because they wanted to attempt to embarrass Meadows and call the vote [on Wednesday last week] so it’s not hanging over Boehner’s head.

“What they found out was the exact opposite. They found out bad things would happen, that literally they would be calling the vote without knowing what would happen. Therefore, they did not call the vote and now they have this issue hanging over John Boehner’s head for the next five weeks.”

Perhaps Speaker Boehner imagines that the members will return to their districts and hear an outpouring of support for the speaker.  If so, he is delusional.  Much more likely is that grassroots activists will show up at town halls and ask why so few of the promises made to conservatives have been kept by the GOP-controlled Congress.  Realistically, Boehner’s best hope is to assemble packages of bribes and threats to use on individual members of the House, and apply them after the recess.

As Boyle notes, a parliamentary strategy exists for Meadows and his allies to force a vote:

When the August recess is over, if Meadows wants to—or any other member wants to—they could offer the motion to vacate the chair and remove Boehner as Speaker of the House as a privileged resolution, which means it gets a floor vote in full without the consent of Boehner’s leadership team. That means the Speaker is extraordinarily vulnerable, and his conservative opposition could make a move whenever, wherever they want to—and when they have the votes to remove him from office.

The GOP establishment, firmly in bed with the Chamber of Commerce and unwilling to rock the boat as the conservative base demands, apparently believes that it can tough out the challenges coming its way.  The meteoric rise of Donald Trump is another symptom of the problem.

I have no way of predicting the outcome of the Meadows challenge.  I can predict that members will receive a lot of pressure from their constituents.  But if Boehner survives and Trump is squashed, a portion of the conservative base is likely to stay home in the 2016 election, and that would be a disaster for the GOP and for the Republic.