If you thought the days of bad blood between House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and rank-and-file House lawmakers were on hold, at least for the summer, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) apparently didn’t get the memo.
Tuesday night, the congressman marked his 56th birthday by filing a resolution in the House to force Boehner from the top leadership post.
The “motion to vacate the chair” is the first time that a Boehner opponent has taken such a step and is a bit of payback from Meadows, a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and one of 25 conservative rebels who in January voted against Boehner for a third term as Speaker.
Last month House Government and Oversight Reform Chair Mark Chaffetz (R-UT), a Boehner ally, stripped Meadows of subcommittee gavel after the North Carolina lawmaker opposed a vote to give President Obama the power to “fast track” trade agreements.
Conservatives raised an uproar over the punishment, and began openly talking about launching a rebellion against Boehner.
Meadows was eventually given back his subpanel chair but the damage was done. The text of his resolution seethes with animosity toward the Speaker. The document states Boehner “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”
The resolution rattles off seven accusations against Boehner, including that he is using the legislative calendar to “create crises for the American people, in order to compel members to vote for legislation” and using the “power of the office to punish members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”
The resolution is more of a warning shot than a real threat to Boehner’s leadership position. Meadows told reporters that he wants to promote a “discussion” among the House GOP about Boehner’s leadership, to insure that “every voice and every vote is respected.”
Whether the resolution will come to the floor for a vote remains to be seen, as House Rules Committee chair Pete Sessions (TX) could decide to dump it in the trash can. Meadows could use certain maneuvers to force a vote but even with the backing of the forty-something House Freedom Caucus members, the resolution is unlikely to pass. Democrats would sit on their hands in such a scenario, content to sit back and watch Republicans squabble with one another.
The resolution ensures that when the House adjourns Wednesday for the August recess, Republicans will leave Capitol Hill with bruised feelings and suspicions about one another’s loyalty rather than back slaps and best wishes for the extended summer break.
The hostility could spill into town halls across the country with Republican voters who want their leaders in Washington to fight for more firebrand policies and it could deepen schisms within the GOP before lawmakers return in September.