Allies of Rep. John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbyists bounce back under Trump Business groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Chaffetz won't run for reelection MORE (R-Ohio) are infuriated with the right wing of the House GOP conference, which they blame for his resignation.
GOP lawmakers who’ve stood by Boehner’s side throughout his rocky five-year tenure as Speaker bitterly blamed the right flank for forcing a contested leadership race less than a year after the party won control of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.
He accused them of opposing Boehner at every turn, and noted they have “never had a horse of their own.”
“Any jackass can kick down a barn door. It takes a carpenter to hang one. We need a few more carpenters around here. Everybody knows it,” Dent said off the House floor.
Leadership allies are frustrated by what they see as a repeated exercise in futility.
They argue that the lawmakers who repeatedly tangled with Boehner aren’t team players, and they said a new leadership team shouldn’t cater to them.
Boehner repeatedly saw conservatives vote against the GOP rules governing debate on legislation. Those votes are supposed to be tests of party loyalty.
They also argue Boehner repeatedly bent to conservative critics on spending issues, only to see them stab him in the back.
“Frankly, I thought our leadership in too many cases has been too accommodating, too quick to appease those who will not govern,” Dent said. “They give far too much procedural consideration to those who will not vote for the bills at the end of the process. That’s going to end. We’ve had enough of that.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a member of Boehner’s inner circle, suggested a new leadership team should implement new conference rules that would make the chamber more functional.
“You just can’t continue to have a super-ultra-minority continue to try to dictate what happens in the House of Representatives. It’s a big problem,” Nunes said.
Boehner said Friday that he wanted the House to avoid the drama of voting on a motion authored by conservative rebel Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to oust him as Speaker.
He insisted he would have survived the vote if it had taken place.
“Listen, it was never about the vote, all right? There was never any doubt about whether I could survive the vote. But I don’t want my members to have to go through this and I certainly don’t want the institution to go through this,” Boehner said at a Capitol news conference.
Others weren’t so sure. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) told reporters outside the GOP conference room that he didn’t believe Boehner had the votes to survive.
Boehner’s move is expected to allow Congress to pass a short-term spending bill that would prevent a government shutdown next week.
Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) referred to the group of hardliners who had been making demands of Boehner in that fight as the “shutdown caucus.”
“Those within our party who insist on continuing to divide us and shut down the government, they can take a small victory today. It's unfortunate,” Jolly said.
The hardliners who pressured Boehner to step down will likely play an influential role in the leadership shakeup.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appears to be in the strongest position to succeed Boehner as Speaker. Many other lawmakers are already gauging support from colleagues to run for majority leader and whip.
The House Freedom Caucus, which is comprised of about 40 conservative lawmakers who’ve frequently opposed Boehner, plans to meet with each leadership candidate before offering endorsements.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, acknowledged that they likely won’t have the votes to install one of their own into the leadership hierarchy. But the Freedom Caucus expects they’ll have the power to sway who can win.
“I don’t think that the conservative wing of the party has enough mass to get one of our own elected. We certainly have enough mass to influence the outcome,” Mulvaney said.
Peter Sullivan contributed to this story.