Iowa reaction to John Boehner stepping down as House speaker (updated)

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner surprised most politics-watchers yesterday by announcing that he will step down as speaker and retire from Congress at the end of October. As Jennifer Steinhauer noted in the New York Times, Boehner’s move "lessened the chance of a government shutdown because Republican leaders joined by Democrats will almost certainly go forward with a short-term funding measure to keep the government operating [after September 30], and the speaker will no longer be deterred by those who threatened his job." Boehner was a frequent target of right-wing talk radio hosts and occasionally at war with the most conservative House Republicans, who now insist on ending all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Remarkably, a nationwide NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday indicated that 72 percent of Republican primary voters are dissatisfied with the work of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 44 percent are "very" dissatisfied, and 36 percent want Boehner and McConnell replaced immediately.

I sought comment from all four Iowans in the House on Boehner stepping down and asked the three Republicans whether they would be inclined to support House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the next speaker. McCarthy has been the front-runner for the job ever since Boehner’s heir apparent, Eric Cantor, lost his GOP primary last year. Other credible candidates for House speaker include Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Jeb Hensarling; Josh Israel profiled them and McCarthy for Think Progress.

I enclose below statements provided by Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04), and well as reaction from Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02). None of the Republicans directly answered the question about supporting McCarthy. Neither King nor Blum mentioned that they were among the 25 House Republicans who did not vote to re-elect Boehner as speaker in January.

I also included former Representative Tom Latham’s reaction to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s comments about Boehner stepping down. Rubio drew cheers from the audience at the Values Voters Summit in Washington when he told them the news, adding, “The time has come to turn the page. The time has come to turn the page and allow a new generation of leadership in this country.” Latham and Boehner were smoking buddies and close friends during Latham’s 20-year career in the House.

UPDATE: Added below excerpts from King’s guest column, “What We Need in Our Next Speaker of the House,” published in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal on September 28. This sentence is ironic: “And legislation should pass or fail on the floor of Congress on its merits instead of being blocked in backroom deals because of personal politics.” Surely King knows that the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill would have passed the House easily (mostly with Democratic votes), had it ever been brought to the floor. King and his allies successfully pressured Boehner not to put that bill to a vote of the full House.

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John Boehner re-elected House Speaker: How the Iowans voted

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives re-elected John Boehner as speaker a few minutes ago, as Republican insurgents fell short of forcing a second ballot. Before the vote, fifteen House Republicans including Iowa’s own Steve King (IA-04) had publicly said they would not support Boehner. In the end, 25 Republicans voted either "present" or for other speaker candidates. If all 435 House members had been at the Capitol, Boehner could have afforded to lose up to 28 Republican votes and still be elected on the first ballot. But the speaker only needs a majority of those present in the chamber, and according to Pete Kasperowicz of The Blaze, "a dozen or more" Democrats were expected to be absent while attending former New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s funeral.

The more Democrats who don’t show up, the harder it will be to stop Boehner from getting a majority, and GOP defections will likely have to get to the mid-30s to force a second vote.


I was surprised to when King nominated Florida Republican Dan Webster for speaker this morning. I had assumed he would support his longtime ally Louis Gohmert of Texas. I was also surprised when newly-elected Representative Rod Blum (IA-01) voted for Webster. Freshmen have more to lose if they get on leadership’s bad side, and Blum has incentive to act like a moderate, since he represents a Democratic-leaning district.

I give King and Blum credit for standing up to be counted. Various reports estimated that as many as 50 House Republicans might have voted against Boehner if House rules had allowed a secret ballot instead of a roll call in alphabetical order. If you don’t have the courage to say you’re unhappy with your party’s leader, you don’t belong in Congress.

As expected, newly-elected Iowa Republican David Young (IA-03) voted for Boehner. He got tons of help from the National Republican Congressional Committee in last year’s general election campaign, and he landed a seat on the House Appropriations Committee (not common for a freshman). Young has repeatedly promised to be a “voice at the table” for Iowa, not an uncompromising conservative. I’m already seeing some right-wingers complain on social media about today’s vote. Pottawattamie County GOP leaders had urged Young not to support Boehner for speaker. This is just the first of several high-profile votes that will likely fuel a 2016 primary challenge from the right in IA-03.

The lone Iowa Democrat in Congress, Dave Loebsack (IA-02), voted for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, as did most of the House Democratic caucus.

I will update this post as needed with comments from the Iowans in Congress. Excerpts from King’s case against Boehner are after the jump. The two men have long clashed over the way King talks about undocumented immigrants, but immigration policy wasn’t King’s only beef with Boehner.

UPDATE: Added comments from Blum, Loebsack, and the Iowa Democratic Party below.

SECOND UPDATE: Chris Moody of CNN quoted Blum as saying, “I didn’t sleep much last night. Did a lot of soul searching. I’m at peace with myself.” I hope so, because Boehner is already punishing Republicans who voted against him as speaker. Today’s vote probably will not help Blum deliver for his district.

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Who's right about impeachment prospects: John Boehner or Steve King?

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want to impeach President Barack Obama. His plan to sue the president is a gambit to appease Republicans bent on fighting the president’s alleged failure "to faithfully execute the laws." At this week’s meeting of the House GOP caucus, both Boehner and Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged colleagues not to talk about impeachment, saying such talk only helps Democrats. Today, Boehner assured a roomful of reporters, "We have no plans to impeach the president," claiming that such speculation was "all a scam started by Democrats at the White House."

There’s no question Democrats have been hyping the impeachment speculation, to remarkably successful effect. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in $2 million over four days from e-mail appeals warning of Republican plans to oust the president.

But it’s a stretch for Boehner to claim Democrats dreamed up the impeachment “scam.” Dave Weigel posted a good overview of Republicans inside and outside Congress calling for impeachment within the past year, and especially within the past month.

Just a few days ago, Iowa’s own Representative Steve King predicted House Republicans will be motivated to launch impeachment proceedings if President Obama uses executive orders to give “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants. After the jump I’ve posted excerpts from those comments, as well as King’s latest op-ed piece on immigration policy (which does not mention impeachment).  

To put it mildly, King and Boehner don’t always see eye to eye on political messaging. With House leadership strongly opposed, I’m skeptical Republicans aligned with King would be able to force a vote on articles of impeachment, let alone pass such a measure. Too many people remember how calls to impeach President Bill Clinton backfired during the 1998 midterm elections. But it’s worth noting that House Republicans proceeded with efforts to remove Clinton despite the verdict voters delivered in 1998. A recent national poll indicated that even as Obama’s approval ratings remain low, two-thirds of Americans oppose impeaching him. The same poll suggested that a majority of Republican respondents favor impeachment.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. – Great piece by Lynda Waddington on King saying, in effect, that Obama can’t feel true patriotism because “he was not raised with an American experience.”

UPDATE: Added new comments from King below. He isn’t currently pushing for impeachment but thinks the president might want to be impeached because of a narcissistic personality and “messiah complex.”

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Self-awareness is not Steve King's strong suit

Via Bret Hayworth’s blog at the Sioux City Journal, I see that Representative Steve King (R, IA-04) took offense at a report that House Speaker John Boehner used an unprintable word to refer to him. The incident allegedly happened at the height of last summer’s furor over King’s views on the children of undocumented immigrants. Hayworth writes that King responded to the report with a statement:

“There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language. Everyone needs to remember that,” King said. “I want to be clear. There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party, and we all need to do our work in a constructive, open and respectful way.”

You read that right: Steve King sees “no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials.”

This from the guy who made “cantaloupe calves” a national symbol of the GOP’s hostility to undocumented immigrants.

This from the guy who created a visual aid re-naming the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) “Socialized Clinton-style Hillarycare for Illegals and their Parents.”

For the record, I don’t care what Boehner called King in an angry moment. I do care that King’s faction of the House GOP caucus seems to have successfully blocked comprehensive immigration reform during this Congress. President Barack Obama thinks an immigration bill will pass this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE: King’s statement may have been crafted for humorous effect, as his phrasing mirrored Boehner’s comments about King last summer. But get real: calling someone an expletive is not as “hateful” and “offensive” as saying DREAMers are 100 times more likely to be drug mules than valedictorians.

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Victory for Steve King faction of GOP on immigration reform

The writing was on the wall this summer, but U.S. House Speaker John Boehner made it official yesterday: the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will not take up the bipartisan Senate-passed immigration reform bill, nor will the House ever go to conference committee negotiations on that bill.

It’s a triumph for Representative Steve King (IA-04), who has made it his mission to stop any effort to grant legal status or citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

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