Boehner expected to keep House speakership
BY LISA MASCARO Chicago Tribune
Thursday, January 03, 2013
1/03/13 at 5:43 AM
WASHINGTON - When Republicans chose John A. Boehner as House speaker two years ago, the former plastics salesman who had served two decades in Congress finally had the job he wanted.
Trouble was, he couldn't have picked a worse time.
That reality played out again late New Year's Day, when Boehner suffered a stinging rebuke as his rambunctious tea party-inspired majority - more conservative and less willing to compromise than he is - abandoned their leader on the "fiscal cliff" deal, even though it passed the House.
Boehner voted yes, but the majority of his majority and even his top two lieutenants voted no. If conventional wisdom held, the speaker's tenure would be finished.
But Boehner is expected to be re-elected Thursday by a still rebellious Republican majority. Like the political disarray within the Republican Party nationally, the GOP ranks in the House are similarly divided. The lack of a challenger with a clear line of ascent all but ensures the Ohio Republican will keep his dream job.
Influential Republican activists agitate for change, and up-and-comers in Congress muse aloud about a run. Yet no one else in the House leadership, most notably the No. 2 Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia - Boehner's strongest rival who split with him on the fiscal cliff vote - has stepped up.
Would-be challengers are reluctant to aim for - and miss - the speaker's job. Nor are they eager to take on a work that has proven as difficult as herding cats or keeping frogs in wheelbarrow.
"Who wants his job right now?" said Ron Bonjean, who had been a top aide to ex-GOP House speaker, Dennis Hastert of Illinois. "No one wants to take his place."
That is not to say the first vote in the new House, scheduled for Thursday about 1 p.m., will be without drama.
Nothing prevents a renegade Republican from putting forward another nominee, although whisperings that one was coming have all but subsided. Cantor, in fact, nominated Boehner during the party's own vote last month. And even though Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said in a radio interview that the House needs conservative, "red state" leadership, he is not expected to volunteer.
The new House will have 233 Republicans and 200 Democrats with two vacancies. For the GOP, that's down from its 240-191 edge and four vacancies in the last Congress.
Democrats Thursday will nominate one of their own, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who was the first female speaker. But they are the minority.
As the roll is called, Boehner may lose a handful of votes. Some Republicans may simply miss the vote, or decline to cast one.
Pelosi endured 18 Democratic defectors last time she was nominated.
In many ways, Boehner represents a new type of House leadership, far different from the arm-twisting pols of an earlier time - or even the political force that was Pelosi.
More aligned with the Chamber of Commerce wing than the tea party, Boehner is not of the political generation that produced the majority he now leads, many of whom came in on the 2010 conservative wave.
The speaker's job in the 113th Congress will come with similarly hard-right members, as newly safe GOP districts elected more partisan lawmakers in November.
The next two years are not likely to be much different for Boehner, whose struggles can be seen in the results. Almost every major law - from raising the debt limit to avoid a catastrophic default to pulling the nation back from the fiscal cliff - needed Democrats to pass.
Two newcomers in Oklahoma delegation
Oklahoma's House delegation in the 113th Congress which will convene Thursday will be an all-Republican lineup with two newcomers.
Jim Bridenstine of Tulsa will replace John Sullivan, also of Tulsa, in the 1st District, while Markwayne Mullin of Stilwell will replace Democrat Dan Boren of Muskogee in the 2nd District.
Re-elected were Republicans Frank Lucas in the 3rd District, Tom Cole in the 4th District and James Lankford in the 5th District.
Rep. John Boehner: Despite his detractors, he's expected to keep his post