The start of something?
This is a first. No member of the House of Representatives has ever filed a resolution to remove the Speaker of the House. The resolution is going nowhere, you understand, because the proscibed process puts it in front of a committe that’s packed with Boehner loyalists who will simply bury it and most likely not even offer a response.
Does that mean it’s a waste-of-time stunt that has no chance of making any impact whatsoever? Depends. That’s what leadership loyalist types will certainly say. And without more House members willing to get on board, file similar resolutions or throw their support behind this one, they’re surely right. But there’s a strong case to be made for Boehner’s removal, and a movement to make it happen could indeed go somewhere if more Republicans follow the leader of Mark Meadows:
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., filed the resolution — a “motion to vacate the chair” — late Tuesday, claiming that he “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”
The proposal was referred to a committee stocked with leadership loyalists, and therefore unlikely to emerge.
The motion says that Boehner has caused the power of Congress to atrophy, “thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People.”
The motion also claims that Boehner has used the power of his office to “punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”
Last month, the leadership briefly stripped Meadows of his subcommittee chairmanship over his votes but later relented after conservatives objected.
The resolution could place House Democrats in a difficult, and unusual, position. Democrats would face a dilemma of either voting to help preserve Boehner – with whom they have frequently clashed – or backing House conservatives and gambling on pandemonium by helping to throw Boehner out.
Here’s the thing: Boehner is not going to actually be removed through a process like this. There will always be enough House members willing to protect him if he wants to stay on. But if opposition to him becomes large enough and vocal enough, he might have no choice but to voluntarily step down in recognition of the fact that he simply doesn’t have the support of his caucus anymore.
But there are problems with that. One is that no credible challenge has really been made when his opponents have had the chance at the start of any congressional session. Granted, there was some limited drama earlier this year about whether Boehner could get majority support on the first vote, but I think it was largely for show. There were never enough Republicans willing to throw the speakership into question, despite the misgivings many of them had about Boehner. If you really want the guy out, someone who represents a credible alternative needs to step up, and Boehner’s opponents need to join in getting behind that person. So far that hasn’t happened.
Also, a serious movement to oust Boehner isn’t going to gain steam behind the way he punishes members by stripping them of committee assignments or whatever. The public doesn’t care about that. But the public could and should care about Boehner’s endless capitulation to Obama and Harry Reid on matters like regular-order budgeting and Obama’s continued flouting of the law with no real consequence from Congress. That’s one of the items addressed in the story above. Boehner has been so weak in his assertion of the power of the legislative branch, he’s virtually neutered it as any sort of check against the power of the executive branch. That’s a serious dereliction of duty.
And it all comes down to fear. There’s a lot Boehner could do to tie Obama’s hands when he thumbs his nose at the law and at the constitutional limits on his power, but he knows he can’t do those things without experiencing a media onslaught and claims that he waants to “shut down the government.” All of which is nonsense, of course. The only reason a government shutdown ever comes into play is that Obama threatens to take his ball and go home whenever he doesn’t get what he wants, and the media figures that because Republicans know Obama will do that, they’re the ones shutting down the government if they don’t keep the king happy.
It’s mind-blowingly absurd, but it works because we don’t have a Speaker who knows how to fight the battle – or even wants to. Mark Meadows isn’t going to get Boehner removed via this resolution alone, but if he uses the attention he gets by doing this to publicly make the case that the House needs a real leader, and why, he just might set a dynamic in motion that would put Boehner in a position where he has to step aside.
Then, of course, we’d need a majority of House Republicans getting behind someone who not only is willing to really fight – but actually knows how to do so. You tell me: Who is that guy?