Boehner Wins New Term as Speaker, in Maximally Humiliating Fashion

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 3 2013 1:32 PM

Boehner Wins New Term as Speaker, in Maximally Humiliating Fashion

The tiny rebellion started early in the roll call, when the chair presiding over the House called on Rep. Justin Amash. Every Republican was supposed to vote John Boehner for speaker. But the Michigan sophomore cast a vote for Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho sophomore who happened to be sitting stony-faced next to him. The House floor filled with awkward "Oooohs" and the occasional "Who?"

The early part of the alphabet turned out to be trouble. Rep. Paul Broun voted for Allen West—who lost his seat last year—to become speaker. John Bridenstine, a new member from Oklahoma who upset an incumbent in a 2012 primary, voted for Eric Cantor. When Cantor's turn came, he said "John. Boehner." with the tone of voice you'd use on a telemarketer who put you on hold for three hours.

Advertisement

But that didn't stop the dissents. Rep. Louie Gohmert voted for West; Rep. Steve Pearce and Rep. Ted Yoho voted for Cantor; Rep. Tom Massie, elected with help from Ron Paul's PAC, voted for Amash. Rep. Tim Huelskamp voted for former Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, and anti-war Rep. Walter Jones voted for former Comptroller General David Walker, though the name was so unfamiliar that the chair made him repeat it. Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Raul Labrador didn't bother voting. For a few frantic moments it looked like defections would force a second ballot—something that has not happened for 90 years—but a few stragglers (Michele Bachmann included) showed up late to end the damn thing.

Nancy Pelosi lost votes, too, as two Blue Dog Democrats went for their colleague Jim Cooper; Cooper himself went for "retired Gen. Colin Powell"; and Rep. John Barrow of Georgia went for his iconic colleague John Lewis. But the defections held Boehner's vote to 220 in a conference of 233 Republicans. The defectors, in exchange for two years of ire from leadership, just wanted to bloody the guy's nose.

UPDATE: David Walker was nice enough to give me a reaction to his unexpected vote: "I was surprised and appreciate Congressman Jones' vote. We did not speak about it in advance. Congrats to Speaker Boehner."

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.