The speaker vote

On Thursday, the Republican nominee for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was selected in a meeting of all the Republican members elected to serve in the 114th Congress. The debate and vote were in a members-only meeting to allow open discussion and build consensus for the Republican nominee who will face off against the Democrat nominee in a vote on the floor of the House in early January.

John Boehner was selected as the Republican nominee. While he is well liked by many within the Republican conference, I continue to believe that Speaker Boehner has not been sufficiently strong in challenging the president — the most ideologically liberal and obstinate in our nation’s history. Additionally, there are issues on which the speaker and I continue to disagree.

An effort to replace Speaker Boehner would require several steps, each offering very little chance of success. The first step would be to rally enough Republican dissenting votes to block a 50-percent-plus-1 vote on the floor. The Republicans have a historically high 60-seat majority in the newly elected 114th Congress, possibly higher as midterm election vote counts continue. With this large of a majority, the probability of securing enough dissenting votes is remote, especially after a private nomination meeting.

If 30 or more Republicans voted for someone else and Speaker Boehner did not get a 50-percent-plus-1 vote, a second private meeting of the Republican Conference would occur. At that meeting the dissenting members would have to withstand pressure from the balance of the Republican conference. The minority of Republicans would have to offer an alternative candidate who the majority of Republicans would accept. The probability that there would be 30 or more dissenters is virtually zero, and likewise the chance that the majority of Republicans would capitulate to the minority is near zero.

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