House Freedom Caucus chair Jim Jordan: No, we're not trying to oust Boehner as Speaker

Strong words from a man who’s been touted as a potential successor in case conservatives ever manage to wrest the gavel away from establishmentarians.

Stories about whether House tea partiers might dump Boehner are the congressional equivalent of stories about Trump running for president. Deep down everyone knows neither one will happen but the sliver of a chance that they might is way too much fun for political reporters to resist.

House Republicans who have opposed measures to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because they haven’t also rolled back President Obama’s executive action on immigration need to be louder, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Sunday…

The conservative lawmaker played down a potential coup against Boehner should the Speaker introduce a “clean” funding bill for DHS that does not include measures to roll back Obama’s executive actions, saying he was “most interested” in upholding the Constitution.

“That’s not gonna happen. That’s not the issue.”

That’s the chairman of the new, very conservative House Freedom Caucus talking, a group about which a senior GOP aide recently said to Roll Call, “They’re not legislators, they’re just a**holes.” If anyone’s going to lead the charge against Boehner, they will. How would they go about doing it, though? If you read last night’s QOTD, you already know: There’s a rumor floating around that House conservatives will file a motion to vacate Boehner’s title as Speaker, a measure unlikely to pass but guaranteed to humiliate Boehner if ti came to the floor. It’d be a de facto vote of no confidence by a key bloc within his own caucus. It’d take 218 votes for the motion to pass, which means tea partiers couldn’t get it through without overwhelming support for Democrats. The theory is that Pelosi would oppose it since passage would mean empowering conservatives at the expense of centrists, but I don’t know. There’s nothing much productive Pelosi can do in the House anymore, in which case why not promote the “Republican civil war” narrative by joining with righties to dethrone Boehner? The more convinced swing voters are that congressional Republicans are a mess, the more inclined they might be to hand power back to the Democrats.

The only hope here for righties, and all it is is a hope, is that Boehner would be so shamed by the motion to vacate and so disgusted with this endless tug of war between the center and the right that he’d use it as an excuse to quit. There’s a … slim possibility of that happening, I guess. But there’s also a possibility that he’ll quietly huddle with Pelosi and let House Democrats use an obscure rule to force a vote on the Reid/McConnell Senate bill to fund DHS long-term.

With rumblings about a full-scale revolt from within the ranks should Boehner put a funding bill on the floor that doesn’t explicitly block implementation of President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions, there was talk Friday night from senior House Democratic aides of Republicans having found a face-saving procedural gambit that would ultimately end in full funding for Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year…

Clause four of House Rule XXII (not to be confused with the more-often cited Senate Rule XXII) provides: “When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.”…

Because such a motion is “privileged” that would then trigger a vote on sending the Senate-amended full year Homeland Security appropriations bill to Obama’s desk without any of those riders designed to block his executive actions on immigration…

It would still require a majority vote of the House, and therefore would require dozens of Republican votes and likely at least the tacit approval of House leadership.

In other words, Democrats can make the House vote on the Senate bill and all that’s stopping them from passing it is the opposition of Republican centrists — and all that’s stopping those centrists from voting with the Dems is Boehner’s opposition. Boehner could wink at them, freeing them to vote with Pelosi, and then tell grassroots conservatives, “Hey, I tried to block DHS funding but that Nancy Pelosi sure is clever.”

Here’s Jordan on CNN yesterday getting a lecture on “civics” from Dana Bash, which is her way of saying that when Congress is deadlocked, Republicans should bow to Democrats. At least when there’s a phony limited partial DHS shutdown at stake.

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David Strom 8:01 AM on March 27, 2023