Posted: 4:15 pm Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday downplayed a rare effort to push him from his powerful post, giving reporters no hint that he is worried about his future in the Congress, even as Republican lawmakers demanding new leadership in the Republican Party huddled on their options.
“This is one member, alright?” Boehner said of the challenge from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who last night submitted a resolution to declare the post of Speaker vacant in the U.S. House.
“I’ve got broad support amongst my colleagues,” Boehner told reporters.
Some of that support was evident in interviews off the floor of the House, as Boehner loyalists ridiculed the surprise effort to find a new Speaker.
“It’s the dumbest political move I’ve ever seen in my 27 years in politics,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).
“I think it’s an incredibly selfish move by a member or two who seek to get attention for themselves,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), whose district is next door to Boehner’s.
As Westmoreland and Turner spoke to reporters, Meadows was just across the Speaker’s Lobby, doing an interview with talk show host Sean Hannity.
A two-term lawmaker, Meadows would have had no idea that it was a spot where Boehner had routinely sat years earlier, chatting with lawmakers and grabbing a cigarette – before he was Speaker.
While many were critical of the Meadows move, the North Carolina Republican did have his defenders.
“It always takes courage to do what’s right,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who has been in the doghouse with the GOP leadership for a number of years.
“I think he’s a man of integrity,” Jones said of Meadows. “I’m going to join my colleagues who believe we need to change the leadership.”
Meadows met through the day on Wednesday with other GOP lawmakers who might support him, but were somewhat befuddled by his move, worried it would blot out talk about the Iran nuclear deal and more.
“I think the biggest concern people have is the timing of it,” said Rep. Barry Lowdermilk (R-GA), who has argued in the past for a change in the GOP leadership.
Supporters of the Speaker said Meadows had given Democrats a lifeline – the chance to talk about something other than the Iran nuclear agreement.
“I don’t think it’s helpful,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
“I was taken by surprise,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). “I have never thought of John Boehner as anything but a trusted ally.”
There was no vote taken on the Meadows resolution, which listed a series of grievances against Boehner, “declaring the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives vacant.”
By the time lawmakers left town, three other Republicans had joined Meadows as official sponsors of his resolution to declare the Speaker’s post vacant: