The calendar for new House leadership elections has been pushed back, meaning that the scrambling for position, internal sniping and various bits of dirty laundry being aired is going to stretch on for nearly two more months. Originally we expected to see nominations for the new Speaker and the election of the new Majority Leader and GOP Whip taking place this Thursday, but this afternoon John Boehner threw a wrench in those plans and pushed things back to after he’s left the building. (Washington Post)
Outgoing House Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday that lawmakers will elect his replacement on Oct. 29, one day before he is set to leave Congress, and that elections for other members of the House Republican leadership will be delayed until after a new speaker is chosen…
“When I made my announcement last month, I said that I would continue to serve through the month of October. After consulting with my colleagues, I am announcing today that all members of the House of Representatives will vote to elect their next Speaker during a floor vote on October 29th.
“Next Thursday, October 8th, the members of the House Republican Conference will meet to elect our nominee for Speaker. After the new Speaker is elected on October 29th, the members of our Conference will select the rest of their leadership team. The new Speaker will establish the date for these additional leadership elections. This new process will ensure House Republicans have a strong, unified team to lead our conference and focus on the American people’s priorities.”
On some levels this is an entirely understandable move by Boehner. He’s already an unofficial lame duck, having served notice of his departure, but once the nominations are concluded on Thursday he will be truly heading for the back door. That still leaves roughly seven weeks for every move he makes and every comment he utters to be second guessed by those in line to possibly replace him. The Speaker relies on the rest of his leadership team to get things done and if there are new faces in the Majority Leader and Whip seats for the rest of his term it complicates his life even further. They will owe no allegiance to him nor have any need for a good relationship since he’ll soon be on his way home.
This may or may not prove to be good news for the various factions fighting over the top spots. If the elections were held on Thursday, it still isn’t sounding like there was going to be a major shake-up. The Freedom Caucus has been able to create a lot of waves, but nobody we’re hearing from seems to think that the noise adds up to enough actual votes to create a real tidal shift. Given a few more weeks for positioning and some key legislative votes, who knows? Internal elections have swung on smaller issues in the past.
The real question is still whether or not there’s anyone who can build enough of a coalition to wrest the Speaker’s gavel away from Kevin McCarthy. Jason Chaffetz is very popular but he’s also even more of a newcomer to the chamber than McCarthy. Can he actually dredge up enough votes to even stop the current Majority Leader from ascending, say nothing of the 218 he’d need to take the top position? I know there’s a lot of angst in the peanut gallery over it, but I’d be shocked to see it happen.
Either way, we’ve got considerably longer to wait now. Break out the popcorn. The only thing we can be sure of at this point is that it’s unlikely to be any sort of quiet, business as usual progression from here on out.