Representative Mark Meadows staged a coup in Congress this Wednesday when he moved to oust Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Speaker, confident in his popularity, refused to allow a vote on the motion.
Rep. Meadows accused Boehner of having “endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.” Even worse, says Meadows, Boehner has caused Congress to “atrophy,” making them “subservient” to the President and Supreme Court.
Rep. Meadows is a member of the Freedom Caucus, a conservative group that has clashed repeatedly this year with the Speaker. Do his actions symbolize widespread discontent or the rash decision of a single member of the House?
The Speaker hopes for the latter. “This is one member,” says Boehner of Meadows. “I’ve got broad support among my colleagues. And frankly, it isn’t even deserving of a vote.”
While the Speaker says he isn’t worried about losing his job, the fact that he denied his fellow Congressmen the chance to oust him makes me think he’s scared. Boehner must know that if all 188 House Democrats voted to kick him out, it would take only 30 Republicans for the coup to succeed. There are over 30 Republicans in the Freedom Caucus.
The mutiny came just a day before the House was scheduled to adjourn for summer vacation. Meadows is frustrated by Boehner’s unwillingness to fight the liberal President on any issue. Although listed as a Republican, John Boehner’s unwavering support for Obama and his initiatives during the past five years shows him to be a Liberal at heart.
The list of grievances against the Speaker is lengthy. First of all, Boehner was the one who forced the bill giving Obama the ability to fast-track trade legislation. When Meadows retaliated against the idea, Boehner stripped him of his position as Chairman. Furthermore, many Republican lawmakers are upset that Boehner skipped his opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood and refused to eliminate funding for Obama’s deportation amnesty bill.
“You’ve got a member here and a member there who are off the reservation. No big deal,” says Boehner.
“There have been a whole string of vindictive things that have come out of the speaker’s office,” says Rep. Steve King from Iowa. “I think that there is an underestimation of the resentment that that has created.” Fellow member of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Trent Franks from Arizona, says the failed coup “empowers Nancy Pelosi to exploit the situation.”
“This is not the time to be divisive and counterproductive to our conference,” laments Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. “It’s stupid.”
Congress will face a series of tough topics when they return after summer recess including an increase in the national debt limit, the nuclear deal with Iran, and a potential government shutdown. Will Boehner be able to hold the House together?