Weakened Boehner still likely to hang on to speakership

The House speaker has been lambasted by multiple factions within the GOP, but he's likely to retain his title

Topics: John Boehner, House Republicans, Tea Party, Fiscal cliff, Hurricane Sandy, Editor's Picks,

Though House Speaker John Boehner is poised to hang on to his speakership in Thursday’s vote, he enters the new session of Congress considerably weaker than the last.

Boehner has been hearing it from both flanks of his caucus, with 151 members of his own party voting against the “fiscal cliff” deal, and Republican New York Reps. Peter King and Michael Grimm expressing outrage that Republican leadership failed to call a vote over Hurricane Sandy relief aid.

The Hill reported this morning:

Boehner could also face opposition from the four Republicans punished this month for bucking leadership. Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Dave Schweikert (Ariz.) were all stripped of their committee posts by the Boehner-led GOP Steering Committee, and they’ve been grumbling ever since.

There has been speculation that 17 Republicans could join forces and deny Boehner the majority he needs to become Speaker. House rules dictate that a lawmaker must receive a majority of the votes in order to get the Speaker’s gavel. Republican lawmakers, including one who is not fond of Boehner, said no such effort is under way.

Plus, as Daniel Newhauser from Roll Call writes:

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Boehner’s saving grace may be that his position is so untenable that nobody else wants it. Indeed, nobody has emerged as a viable replacement, and if Boehner is handed back the gavel Thursday, it may be because of that fact, said Ron Bonjean, who was communications director for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

“This is likely to be a very difficult two years for the House Republican leadership because you have a lack of consensus within the conference about which direction to head in,” Bonjean said. “The speaker has seen good times and bad times in leadership and in the Republican ranks. I think there’s no other person who understands how difficult this is than Boehner.”

In addition, King and Grimm softened their criticism of Boehner on Thursday, after the speaker promised to schedule a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief on Friday.

NBC News reports that the vote will occur shortly after the new session convenes at noon.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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