The passage of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday marked the third time in two months that major legislation had cleared the House with the support of less than half of House Republicans.
That represents a treacherous trend if Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, wants to remain speaker, Chris Chocola, the president of the conservative Club for Growth, told National Journal.
“There is only so long you can do things your conference doesn’t want you to do. Sooner or later, they won’t want you to be their speaker,” Chocola said.
Chocola, a former GOP congressman from Indiana, said the Club doesn’t get to meddle in congressional leadership races. But his group has played heavily in Republican primaries in recent years, sometimes at odds with the House GOP leadership, trying to elect unapologetic and unbending conservatives. “If we do our job, then they’ll elect good leaders,” Chocola said of the candidates the group backs.
The Violence Against Women Act passed on Thursday with only 87 Republicans in support and 138 opposed. It cleared the House on the strength of 199 Democratic aye votes. It was the same story last month, when the House approved additional aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy with only a fraction of GOP support (49 ayes to 179 nays). And the fiscal-cliff deal in January that allowed tax rates to rise on the wealthiest earners cleared the House with only 85 GOP votes in favor.
“It just seems that--I’m not beating up on Boehner—but it doesn’t seem like you can do this for very long and continue to be speaker,” Chocola said. “But that’s his problem, not ours.”
The speaker’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article appears in the March 1, 2013, edition of National Journal Daily.