The plot to deny Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) the Speaker's gavel was "asinine," and the plotters should be kicked out of the GOP conference, a Boehner ally says in a new interview.
Former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who retired last week after nine terms in the House, slammed the conservative wing of his party in an interview with The Atlantic. He said it was "asinine" for Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) to try to whip conservative votes against Boehner for Speaker.
Nine GOP members ultimately defected from Boehner, not enough to deny him the Speaker's gavel.
LaTourette said Boehner had resisted the urge to retaliate against members who undermined the legislative process, but he has grown frustrated with lawmakers who don't appear to have much interest in legislating.
After conservatives defeated Boehner's "Plan B" tax bill, the Speaker told members they were sending him into negotiations with the Senate and White House "naked."
LaTourette also said Boehner felt "betrayed" when Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) voted against the final deal on tax rates. The threat of a bigger conservative rebellion prompted him to pull relief funding for Hurricane Sandy off the floor just after the tax vote.
"He had expended a lot of political capital to get the 85 votes [on the fiscal-cliff deal], and he felt a little betrayed that the other members of the elected leadership walked on him," LaTourette told The Atlantic. "And the last piece was, as you saw during the Speaker election, this sort of insurrection was forming against him. There was a fear that if he put $60 billion, no matter how worthy, of unpaid-for emergency spending on the floor, the insurrection would become bigger than it was."