The thorn in Boehner’s side

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By Luke Russert,

from The Huffington Post,

The 114th Congress was sworn in on Tuesday and just like the 113th which ended in friction, this body of lawmakers started out on a contentious note.

Up first was John Boehner’s reelection as speaker of the House. In 2013 Boehner barely held onto his gavel. While no serious Hill observers thought he’d lose his leadership role, he came within three votes of becoming the first speaker in the modern era forced to be elected on a second ballot. Boehner was safely reelected with the support of 216 of his fellow members but this time around twenty-four Republicans opposed Boehner with one voting present.

It should be put into context that there were more defections because the GOP majority has grown in the aftermath of the November midterms. However, as The Washington Post points out, it was the biggest revolt against a speaker in 150 years. The opposition to Boehner from staunch conservatives, often dubbed the “Kamikaze Caucus” by senior members for their willingness to lead the party to defeat on principle, will further fan the flames that there’s an insurgency in Boehner’s conference.

There’s little doubt that these twenty-five or so members will continue to be a thorn in Boehner’s side for the duration of the 114th Congress. It remains to be seen whether Boehner will simply ignore them and use Democratic votes to pass big ticket items.

More pressing for the House GOP Leadership is the fate of the current Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). Scalise came under fire over the holiday break when it was reported that he spoke to a group with white supremacists views in Louisiana over twelve years ago. Scalise has admitted speaking to the group was a “mistake” and that he only addressed them on the issue of taxes. Boehner has been quick to back Scalise, as have most rank-and-file members of the House GOP Conference, including the first African-American Republican woman Rep. Mia Love (R-UT).

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