Ignore the Chatter”“Boehner Isn’t Going Anywhere

Washington loves talking about leadership drama, and it won’t let history get in the way.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks to reports on Tuesday in the hours leading up to the debt ceiling deadline.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
Oct. 16, 2013, 7:48 a.m.

Wash­ing­ton loves talk­ing about House Speak­er John Boehner get­ting booted. But we’re three years in­to that con­ver­sa­tion, and he’s still here.

Lead­ers in the House and Sen­ate have neither fi­nal­ized a deal nor voted on a bill to raise the debt ceil­ing and re­open the gov­ern­ment, but com­ment­at­ors are already talk­ing up a pre­dict­able top­ic: Will the mess that has been the last few weeks of budget talks cost Boehner his gavel.

Dav­id Corn, of the lib­er­al magazine Moth­er Jones, wrote the story “How John Boehner Could Lose His Speak­er­ship” on the day the gov­ern­ment shut down. He ex­plains:

He would lose his speak­er­ship be­cause the tea party House GOP­ers push­ing for con­front­a­tion would rebel. Without the sup­port of the 30 or more die-hard con­ser­vat­ives, Boehner would no longer com­mand a ma­jor­ity with­in the House, and his gavel would dis­ap­pear.

On Wed­nes­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post‘s Chris Cil­lizza and Sean Sul­li­van said Boehner was “speak­er in name only.”

Even the lib­er­al group Amer­ic­an Bridge 21st Cen­tury got in on the ac­tion, start­ing a web­site, speaker­cruz.com, after it looked like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was call­ing the shots for House Re­pub­lic­ans.

Cable-news hosts are already ask­ing guests wheth­er Boehner keeps his seat. Many of the journ­al­ists who an­swer haven’t fallen in­to the trap just yet: on Wed­nes­day, both The At­lantic’s Molly Ball on MS­N­BC and the Na­tion­al Re­view‘s Robert Costa on CN­BC said they did not fore­see Boehner los­ing his gavel after this cur­rent crisis gets re­solved.

This isn’t the first time that Boehner’s speak­er­ship has been sup­posedly at risk.

When Boehner sup­por­ted Pres­id­ent Obama on mil­it­ary ac­tion in Syr­ia, con­ser­vat­ive com­ment­at­or Glenn Beck said on his ra­dio show he should lose his job:

Let me tell you something: John Boehner should lose his speak­er­ship, and the people of Ohio should rise up and apo­lo­gize to the rest of Amer­ica. This guy is ac­tu­ally ad­vising the pres­id­ent on how to at­tract Re­pub­lic­ans to his case. He’s ad­vising the pres­id­ent.

Dur­ing the House im­mig­ra­tion de­bate in June, Rep. Dana Rohra­bach­er, R-Cal­if., said Boehner could lose his job if he brought a bill to the floor that didn’t have ma­jor­ity Re­pub­lic­an sup­port.

In the midst of the de­bate sur­round­ing se­quest­ra­tion in Feb­ru­ary, Sen. Ron John­son, R-Wis., said Boehner could lose his speak­er­ship if he al­lowed tax in­creases in any deal to stave off the massive, across-the-board cuts:

I don’t quite hon­estly be­lieve that Speak­er Boehner would be speak­er if that hap­pens. I think he would lose his speak­er­ship.

Fol­low­ing the fisc­al-cliff deal in Janu­ary, where Boehner and House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers agreed to some tax in­creases, con­ser­vat­ives in the House threatened to un­seat Boehner at the start of the ses­sion. Here are some of the head­lines in the run-up to that vote:

The Amer­ic­an Pro­spect: Will John Boehner Lose the Speak­er­ship?

Bri­et­bart: “Enough Re­pub­lic­ans Will­ing to Un­seat Speak­er Boehner

Politico: Has John Boehner lost con­trol?

After all that, Boehner kept the gavel.

And if con­ser­vat­ives are hope­ful of oust­ing Boehner be­fore the next ses­sion of Con­gress, they don’t have his­tory on their side. In the his­tory of the House, a speak­er has nev­er been ous­ted from his or her job, though Speak­er Joseph Can­non did have a sim­il­ar in­sur­rec­tion in 1910 and al­most lost his speak­er­ship.

What is clear at this mo­ment is that talk about Boehner’s speak­er­ship is not go­ing away any time soon. And Wash­ing­ton loves this story.

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