Tea Party critics will hold noses, vote for Boehner as Speaker

Greg Nash

No one rose up to challenge House Speaker John Boehner this fall. Now, even his staunchest GOP critics say they’ll end up voting Thursday afternoon to give the Ohio Republican another two years with no other options out there.

{mosads}Boehner helped grow his GOP conference to its largest levels in 80 years in last week’s midterm elections. The success has basically silenced his Tea Party detractors, who had been making noise earlier this year about a possible plot to overthrow the Speaker.

Even some of the dozen conservatives who launched a failed bid to oust Boehner in early 2013 said they’re sticking with the current leadership team, which includes Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

“Challenges to leadership are very unusual in the history of Congress, and the Speaker and his team have done a great job of raising money,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said in an interview Thursday. “I’m planning to vote for him later today.”

Another conservative critic, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), has committed to backing Boehner, saying he feels the leadership team has finally begun to listen to input from the right. And Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), who challenged McCarthy for the No. 2 job earlier this summer, said he has no plans to shake up the current leadership team.

But several Tea Party Republicans signaled that they’ll be holding their noses as they cast a ballot for Boehner in a closed-door meeting in the Cannon House Office Building.

Conservative Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) said he was voting for Boehner because “there’s really not any other options.” Huelskamp refused to commit to voting for Boehner in a second vote in January on the House floor, saying that’s an issue for next year, and “we haven’t got that far.”

And one of the most outspoken Boehner foes, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), said he would probably end up voting to give the Speaker a third term but would wait until the last minute to make his decision.

“I want to see if there are any opportunities,” Jones told The Hill. “If there are no opportunities, then I will end up supporting leadership. If there are opportunities, then I will consider opportunities.”

Rep.-elect Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) stated plainly on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t support Boehner for Speaker. But as he arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday for freshman orientation, he was backing off that pledge, suggesting he’d get behind whoever won the leadership elections.

“I don’t know if anybody else is running. That’s the only one I know is running at this time,” Loudermilk said of Boehner. “Whoever comes out of that conference, we’re going to be behind.”

Minutes before Boehner swore him in as a new House member, Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) declined to answer a question Wednesday evening if he’d support Boehner for Speaker. Brat is the Tea Party insurgent who toppled former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in the GOP primary over the summer.

In a closed-door GOP conference meeting on Thursday, Boehner, days away from his 66th birthday, was “ebullient,” as he thanked Republicans for winning a historic majority last week, lawmakers in the room said.

“Even before the election, there wasn’t a stirring” of a coup, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) said in an interview after the caucus meeting in the Capitol basement. “And now, with spectacular success … from Maine to American Samoa, it’s really an affirmation of the success of the leadership team.”

Tags Boehner Eric Cantor House Republicans Joe Wilson John Boehner John Boehner Matt Salmon Matt Salmon Mick Mulvaney Tea party Walter Jones

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