I know this sounds crazy, but we ARE in crazy-land now, right? At least I'm doing some THINKING. To be clear, the scenario described is NOT being talked about among Members. I am just playing something out in my own mind, having watched state legislatures pull similar stunts (some successfully) over the years.
So, here's the scenario...
Any member of the House can introduce a resolution asking for a vote to vacate the speakership at any time. Everyone keeps talking about Boehner losing his speakership NEXT YEAR, but a vote does NOT need to happen during the caucus/conference meetings at the beginning of the session. It could happen this week.
If the Parliamentarian determines that it's a "privileged" resolution, which would require some type of "breach" of the privileges of the House, then House rules require that the measure (to "vacate the chair") MUST be considered within two legislative days, and there are no gimmicks that can be employed to stop or slow it. The vote must occur, and the measure could be introduced tomorrow. A vote would have to occur on Saturday, five days before we default.
So, say a liberal Democrat introduced such a resolution. Maybe one who is endangered and needs to become a darling of the left. Mike Honda, for example. There are plenty of others who would do it. Grounds would be that the Speaker is refusing to bring bills to the floor that could save the economy. Given the attention to the shutdown and the more treacherous default, the message would be credible.
The Tea Partiers see a further opportunity to make their disdain of Boehner known, so they abandon him in favor of -- who knows -- say, Cantor? Whoever Ted Cruz anoints? Maybe it's Cruz himself: the Speaker does not have to be a member of the House.
A vote is taken on the floor. All Ds vote to vacate -- and so do the Tea Partiers. Boehner is out.
Then the House needs a Speaker. Almost all Democrats commit to vote for Pelosi, but she can't get to 217. The rule is that a majority of the HOUSE is needed, not a majority of those voting.
The Republican conference offers up their candidate, but there are dissenters who won't vote for that person in a recorded vote on the floor. The pro-Boehner folks are still angry that he's out, and they are worried about who replaces him. They don't want to be further tainted by "crazy". The Tea Party inspired candidate can't get to 217 on the floor. The House has no Speaker. Cantor is effectively in charge. Yikes! The House needs a Speaker and continues voting. In 1923, there were 9 floor votes before a Speaker was elected.
The conference votes multiple times, maybe with multiple candidates, and finally offers up (drum roll, please!)......Boehner. He's the only one who can get the MOST votes out of conference. Let's say that's 200 (32 defections). There is still not enough for a majority on the House floor. And it's not going to be Pelosi. There are no other Republicans who have more support in the conference, so Boehner is the guy. And he needs 16 Democrats to win.
Meanwhile, a group of Dems (probably drawing from New Dems and Blue Dogs) -- with Pelosi's quiet consent -- commit to voting for Boehner in order to get a Speaker, because without a Speaker, Eric Cantor is leading the House. The country is in crisis, and we need an effective Speaker to run the show and save us from ourselves.
Vote is taken and Boehner wins with coalition that includes Democrats (on the promise that Boehner brings up clean bill to deal with cr and debt ceiling). Tea Partiers are completely isolated.
Boehner is reaffirmed as Speaker, and he can now bring a new cr and a clean debt ceiling bill to the floor. Both pass and the country is saved from the worst self-inflicted wound imaginable.
Boehner is Speaker again. Not much has changed from today -- except that he now has a mandate to allow the whole House to work its will. No more Hastert rule, at least for this session. Or at least this week!
Of course, it could be a quicker process. If the privileged resolution was facing Boehner -- and certain defeat -- his people would try to get to the Democrats right away. If some Ds were given latitude to make that vote (Pelosi, again, would have to silently agree), he could win immediately following being deposed. The cooperating Dems could vote to vacate him -- and then turn around and vote to return him to the speakership in the same day. Clean CR and clean debt ceiling bills to follow immediately.
Too "House of Cards", right??? Just trying to save my 401k...
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