It looks like, having dodged the bullet and won his third term as Speaker of the House, John Boehner is going to be doing some House cleaning. And on the short list of clutter to be marginalized are the hardcore Tea Baggers who tried to oust him on inauguration day.
I’m half-heartedly cheering for John Boehner of all people. I may need a drink.
Up to this point, Boehner has been unusual as a Speaker of the House. Political has said he comes from the “Montessori school of managerial style,” after Italian educator Montessori who believed in constructivism and independent learning, and they did it for good reason: Boehner’s gifted the Tea Party/Kamikaze Caucus unusual freedom to do what they wanted to during the 112th and 113th Congresses.
But those days are over, and Boehner looks like he’s pulling some pilot’s licenses.
It starts with Daniel Webster; the Florida freshman who was part of the 2010 wave of Tea Party crackpots. Webster made the decision to try to unseat Boehner a few days ago, trying to work around Boehner’s back to get votes against him. Prior to this, Webster had been given campaign funds from a PAC that Boehner led, and had been award a prized position on the House Rules Committee.
But he who giveth, can taketh away:
After he secured his third term as speaker Tuesday afternoon, losing 25 votes on the House floor to some relatively unknown members of the Republican Conference, Boehner moved swiftly to boot two of the insurgents from the influential Rules Committee. That could be just the start of payback for the speaker’s betrayers, who might see subcommittee chairmanships and other perks fall away in the coming months.
Boehner’s allies have thirsted for this kind of action from the speaker, saying he’s let people walk all over him for too long and is too nice to people who are eager to stab him in the back. The removal of Florida Reps. Daniel Webster and Richard Nugent from Rules was meant as a clear demonstration that what Boehner and other party leaders accepted during the previous Congress is no longer acceptable, not with the House’s biggest GOP majority in decades.
Webster and Nugent are only the first names on that list; Politico notes that it didn’t take more than a few hours for Boehner to knock them out of the power structure they were once part of. And that’s two less hardcore Tea Partiers to drive America into the dirt occupying influential positions in the House.
A name not on that list this year is an even more hard-core Tea Bagger, who joined the mutiny at the beginning of the 113th Congress but voted for Boehner yesterday. In doing so, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) caught flack, with the hard-right calling him “another establishment RINO.” He got so much criticism that he needed to issue a statement, which can be read in full here. In the statement, he noted that it was pointless to try and gain “leverage” over Boehner, or “somehow force him to lead in a more conservative fashion” despite the failed revolt. According to him, the exact opposite happened when they tried that party trick two years ago, and Boehner was free without conservatives hamstringing him:
All I can say to that is that the exact opposite happened two years ago: conservatives were marginalized, and Boehner was even freer to work with moderates and Democrats. My guess is that the exact same thing will happen again now. And I fail to see how that helps anything that conservatives know needs to be done in Washington.
So what’s with the sudden change of heart?
Prior to now, Boehner needed to keep the 20-some problem children in Congress who represented the Kamikaze Caucus happy. He didn’t have a huge enough majority that he could afford to marginalize them too far, so he gave them some leverage in exchange for votes.
With the sudden surge of Republicans in the House, however, that’s no longer the case. Now that he doesn’t need their votes, he can exact some of that Old Testament-style retribution on the clown posse that keeps acting up. Webster and Nugent didn’t take that into consideration before they attempted to lead a mutiny, and the rest of the Kamikaze Caucus may need to take note: you’re no longer indispensable.