The new U.S. House of Representatives convened yesterday and narrowly re-elected John Boehner speaker. He received 220 votes, needing 214 to be elected because a few House members were absent. The roll call shows that Iowa Republicans Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04) voted for Boehner, while eight members of the GOP caucus voted for others and several did not vote. Latham and Boehner have been close friends and smoking buddies since Latham was first elected in the mid-1990s. King has sometimes been among the “tea party” dissenters within the GOP caucus, but most of that group (Michele Bachmann, for instance) fell behind Boehner yesterday. King will be a House Agriculture subcommittee chairman in the new Congress. Several of the Republicans who voted for other speaker candidates recently lost prime committee positions.
Boehner’s opponents were disorganized and couldn’t agree on a replacement as speaker.
Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were among the 192 votes for Nancy Pelosi as speaker, but five Blue Dog Democrats voted for other candidates.
The new thing I learned this week is that the speaker of the House does not have to be a member of the House. One Democrat voted for Colin Powell, one Republican voted for Comptroller General David Walker, and two Republicans voted for outgoing Representative Allen West.