Speaker on Mute
Recently, Politico correctly identified Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner as "The Prisoner of Capitol Hill" in the 114th Congress, which met for the first time on January 6th. Speaker Boehner was welcomed back by a dozen of his Republican colleagues voting against his reinstatement as Speaker and a sharply critical statement released by Representative Richard Nugent (R-Florida) after the failed coup. On Tuesday the 13th, more than a dozen far-right members of the House Republicans have split off from the decades-old Republican Study Committee in another direct affront to House Majority leadership. While Republican discontent with Boehner isn’t exactly breaking news, the majority party has reached a new level of open criticism of their purported leader.
The failed toppling of Mr. Boehner, and the defectors’ lack of a replacement for the speaker in the event of a successful coup, however, is indicative of a still-fractured party. Mr. Boehner’s ability to compromise and his efforts to corral the uncompromising Republicans has set him up for an interesting next two years. Wading into the messy Republican presidential primary as a high profile supporter of Jeb Bush, Mr. Boehner isn’t making the criticism any lighter by attaching his name to a candidate who will likely be running against many of the speaker’s harshest critics, some of whom have called him a moderate, among other things. The path for the Republican Congress to raise the debt ceiling again later this year is unclear, and seeing as how Republicans haven’t raised the debt ceiling without the help of Democrats in nearly a decade, Boehner’s goal of ending brinkmanship this term could be thwarted by the newly powerful faction of far right, anti-speaker congressmen.
Mr. Boehner may still be speaker, but it remains to be seen how often he will be heard.
- Alaina Haworth