Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

John Boehner, Then and Now

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

John Boehner, Then and Now

Article excerpt

The announcement by House Speaker John Boehner that he is retiring at the end of October stunned Washington, where life is all about grabbing power and holding on to it.

In 2010, I interviewed Boehner when he was minority leader and asked him to cite the most important lesson he learned when Republicans lost their hard-won House majority in 2006. He replied, "Our team failed to live up to our own principles."

Failing to live up to GOP principles, indeed, failing to articulate what those principles are, was largely the reason for the increase in conservative members who then demanded either action or the speaker's head. They got his head. Whether that means his successor will do a better job is open to question.

On July 28, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., expressed the frustration of many conservatives by filing a "motion to vacate the chair," for the purpose of ousting Boehner from the speakership. Meadows' resolution charged Boehner with using "the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the speaker," providing for "voice votes on consequential and controversial legislation to be taken without notice and with few Members present," using "the legislative calendar to create crises for the American People, in order to compel Members to vote for legislation" and failing to comply with "the spirit of the rules of the House of Representatives, which provide that Members shall have three days to review legislation before voting."

Most conservatives understand that with a Democrat in the White House and an insufficient GOP congressional majority to override presidential vetoes they can't always, or maybe even mostly, have their way. But they would like to see Republicans at least employ some of the tactics Democrats shamelessly use when they hold the majority, such as the "nuclear option" employed in the Senate in 2013, which allowed a majority vote instead of a "supermajority" to advance confirmation votes on judicial nominees and executive branch appointments. …

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