The House of Representatives desperately needs a change in leadership. Just a few weeks ago, Speaker of the House, John Boehner announced that he is stepping down from his position at the end of October instead of at the end of year. Many actually applauded Boehner’s decision. They commended him for stepping down so that the Republicans would have an easier time during the election in their home states as he would be advocating for some legislation that wouldn’t be popular with conservatives.
Others were just happy to see the departure of a speaker who has been described as a “pit bull” who keeps meaningful legislation with bipartisan sponsorship from making it to the floor for a vote. It is ironic that the man, who reportedly rules the house with an iron fist and punishes representatives who defy him by relieving them of their leadership of House Committees, is also known as the biggest “cry baby” in Washington. Most recently, the former altar boy wept uncontrollably during Pope Francis’s address to Congress.
Right out of the gate, the process to select a new speaker became a day time drama. No sooner did Boehner announce his support for his heir apparent House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca), then did the wagons start circling to dismiss McCarthy as Boehner 2.0. While influential members of the House such as Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), the head of the House Ways and Means Committee threw their support behind McCarthy, others argued that he was not the person for the job because he would just continue Boehner’s practices of stonewalling legislation.
Then McCarthy stuck his foot in his month on the talk show circuit. In an effort to show the effectiveness of Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi, McCarthy said that the Committee produced the intelligence about Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. And of course McCarthy’s words were misconstrued by the left who now felt that they had an admission that the Select Committee was a witch hunt against Hillary Clinton. Now that McCarthy stepped into a media bias trap, he had to waste valuable time walking back his misconstrued comments. Again, this scenario was serving as Exhibit A that perhaps McCarthy didn’t have the relationship management and communication skills to be an effective Speaker of the House.
Other pretenders to the throne emerged including Daniel Webster (R-Florida) who has the support of the forty members of the Freedom Caucus. Webster, the former Speaker of the House in Florida, received some notoriety for having run against Boehner in the most recent effort to unseat Boehner. Jason Chaffetz, (R -Utah), the chair of the House Oversight Committee also threw his hat in the ring. Chaffetz, has recently received a lot of positive recognition for the hard line questioning which he delivered to Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards during a hearing regarding the potential defunding of the organization.
Then Kevin McCarthy makes a stunning announcement that he is dropping out of the Speaker race for the good of the party. McCarthy’s declaration which took place on the House floor shocked Congress. Even Boehner appeared to be blindsided. Given how ardently McCarthy campaigned for the leadership position, his sudden departure from the competition appeared to come out of left field. Perhaps, he saw that he would have difficulty obtaining the 218 votes needed for the nomination.
But then another theory surfaced. Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) a few days prior to McCarthy’s announcement sent a letter to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) the Chairman of the House Republican Congress requesting that any candidates for the Speaker of the House position remove themselves from the race if they have any skeletons in their closet. Jones insists that he was just seeking to avoid chaos in the house in the event of a scandal. He was specifically referencing the sequence of events which took place when Newt Gingrich resigned from the speaker position in 1998 and his presumed successor Bob Livingston (R-Louisiana) was discovered to have engaged in an extra-marital affair.
Interestingly enough, within hours of McCarthy’s announcement, it was suggested that he “quit the race” because he feared disclosure of his alleged affair with House Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC). Both McCarthy and Ellmers are married. Of course, Ellmers and McCarthy have denied the allegations. And now Boehner has decided that he is staying on as Speaker until an appropriate replacement who gain garner the 218 votes necessary for confirmation can be found.
And efforts are now under way to try to convince Paul Ryan to run for the position. Apparently, Ryan who previously said he was not running, is reportedly now reconsidering his decision. Representative John Kline (R-Minnesota), a Boehner supporter and reported “Tea Party foe” has also indicated that he will consider running if Ryan does not enter the race.
The cry baby has once again made a mockery of the House. Instead of proceeding with a vote on October 8 on Webster and Chaffetz or at least a decision to hold a vote at a later date, Boehner just stopped the proceedings. The bottom line is that Boehner has to go and someone with gumption needs to step up to the plate. It is ludicrous that we currently have a Republican-controlled congress and nothing is getting done. It is time to clean House and bring in a new Major Domo.