Open thread: House Speaker vote; Update: Boehner wins

posted at 12:11 pm on January 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Under normal circumstances, the vote for Speaker of the House would be a footnote to the opening day of a new Congressional session — but these aren’t normal circumstances.  There has been some grassroots effort to unseat John Boehner in today’s vote, or at least to pressure him into some concessions to conservatives who have felt rejected over the fiscal-cliff negotiations.  It may take as few as 17 dissident Republicans to force Boehner to campaign for his seat:

Rep. John Boehner is running unopposed to keep his job as House speaker for a second term, but the Ohio Republican’s reelection bid – the first vote of the 113th Congress, which convenes on Thursday – is nonetheless a churn of rumor and controversy.

It would take just 17 GOP dissenters to force a second ballot in Thursday’s 12:45 p.m. voice vote and force, perhaps, Boehner to withdraw his candidacy for reelection as speaker.

“It’s not going to happen,” says Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, responding to such reports in an e-mail.

Here’s the rub: while there has been considerable dissatisfaction over the way Boehner has handled his job, there hasn’t been any public challenge to his speakership.  No one has publicly declared him/herself a candidate for the job.  Nor has anyone demonstrated any real inclination to take it, either by word or deed, as Ben Howe commented earlier on Twitter:

Erick Erickson noted the problem of “who else” after hearing from sources on Capitol Hill:

Jim Antle isn’t seeing any options, without Majority Leader Eric Cantor challenging:

Honestly, who would want the job?  They’d have a weak hand in every negotiation, and would have to somehow corral the entire fractious caucus to get anything done. The obvious choice would be Cantor, but he owes his House Majority Leader position to Boehner and hasn’t expressed any interest at all in the job.  No one else would be likely to get the votes.

I’d guess that we may see two or three ballots on the question, just to press Boehner into a hard commitment to force normal order in the 113th, a pledge he renewed this week.  Unless a leader rises to represent the dissenters, though, the vote will eventually go Boehner’s way.

Update: If there was going to be a serious challenge, one could expect the momentum to come from the conservative Republican Study Committee.  As our colleague Guy Benson noted, though, it sounds as though they’ve achieved some accommodation with Boehner:

Update: “No further nominations” other than Boehner or Nancy Pelosi. Pretty sure any abstentions will be minimal at this point.

Update: Justin Amash, who lost his committee assignment in a round of whip-cracking by Boehner after the election, voted for … Raul Labrador.

Update: Cantor received a protest vote from a freshman Republican, but wasn’t too happy about it:

Cantor voted for Boehner, apparently, although there was some confusion as to whether he responded at all.

Update: It’s not just Republicans casting protest votes:

Derp!

Update: We’re more than a third of the way through, and so far only 6 protest votes from Republicans, but Tim Huelskamp also got revenge for his committee punishment:

But …

Update: At the halfway mark,it’s looking like Boehner may have to sweat out a first-ballot win:

Update: Interestingly, both Price and Schweikert — who have openly opposed Boehner of late — voted to make him Speaker.

Update: As I suspected, Boehner won on the first ballot, and managed to do better than the bare-majority 218, too. Not that Boehner actually needed 218 votes to win — he only needed a majority of votes cast for any candidate, as the Congressional Research Service explained a year ago in a report, emphasis mine:

Each new House elects a Speaker by roll call vote when it first convenes. Customarily, the conference of each major party nominates a candidate whose name is placed in nomination. Members normally vote for the candidate of their own party conference, but may vote for any individual, whether nominated or not. To be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of all the votes cast for individuals. This number may be less than a majority (now 218) of the full membership of the House, because of vacancies, absentees, or members voting “present.”

It appears that Boehner had about a 20-vote cushion after accounting for various protest votes, so in effect it wasn’t even really close.

Update: Today’s biggest loser?

A conservative group aiming to oust John Boehner as speaker of the House said on Wednesday that they have commitments from enough Republicans in Congress to deliver the political surprise of the year and deny the Ohio Republican another two years with the speaker’s gavel.

“I have confirmed with a group of congressmen that Speaker Boehner will not be elected speaker tomorrow,” Ron Meyer of the group American Majority Action wrote in an email Wednesday evening. “He will either resign or be forced out tomorrow.”

In a phone interview with The Daily Caller, Meyer said “more than 20” Republicans have told his group they won’t vote for Boehner during elections Thursday. American Majority Action is a conservative organization based in Virginia that is active in the tea party movement. It is run by Ned Ryun, the son of former Republican Rep. Jim Ryun of Kansas.

Er ….

Breaking on Hot Air