John Boehner Resigning; Tom Price For Speaker? How About Majority Leader?

Updated:  My original post is below.  After a few conversations here is the instant snapshot of the race to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be the consensus favorite for Speaker.  Paul Ryan has said he’s not interested.  Conservatives (including some who were publicly anti-Boehner) seem to be OK with McCarthy.  Surprises can happen, and it’s still early.  An hour in, McCarthy seems to be sitting pretty.

That said, there’s an open position of Majority Leader now.  I am told that Tom Price will take a strong look at this race.  A rematch with Cathy McMorris Rogers, as well as potentially against Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan are potential others looking at the Majority Leader position.

It’s early, and this will change frequently.  We’ll talk about it in real time at noon on WGST.

Original Post as follows:


John Boehner has told the House GOP Caucus that he plans to resign his speakership (and apparently Congress) at the end of next month.  This, of course, opens up a race for Speaker.  The questions at hand are 1) Who can actually lead this caucus in a party that has a “base” which has been co-opted by non-Conservative/quasi-Republican Donald Trump, and 2) Who would want to?

The trick to the first question is finding someone that is acceptable to the “conservative” wing of the party, but trusted by the more established members of the party that expect some form of functional government.  The answer could be someone who has previously (somewhat quietly) let it be known that he would be interested in the position:  Georgia’s Tom Price.

Price works well with members across the GOP spectrum.  He’s chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee and the House Policy Committee.  He’s currently the House Budget Chairman, and has put forth the only workable House alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

One would probably have to look at the immediate actions from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as to what will happen next.  McCarthy became Majority Leader fairly easily after the defeat of Eric Cantor in a Republican Primary, rising from the position of Republican Whip.  If conservatives rally behind McCarthy, the race for speaker may be relatively short.  If there is dissension or open rebellion, all bets are off and it could/will get messy.  Perhaps Price will have the opportunity to clean up that mess.   I still have to openly question that in a party that now prides itself on self-inflicted wounds and an entire industry of those who profit from opposing GOP leadership, why he or anyone else would want to.



  1. Bill Arp says:

    Tom Price is a joke. He wore a sweater vest to a NASCAR race. I’m sure the conservative Congress would never vote for a dork like that

  2. Three Jack says:

    I guess herding cats for 5 years finally wore him out. Good news in the aftermath, at least it won’t be Eric Cantor who would be in line for the position if not for his surprising loss last election.

    Over / under – 90 seconds before Boehner cries during his resignation announcement.

  3. xdog says:

    ‘Who would want to?’

    That’s the real question. The freedom caucus has pretty much had its way the last few years and as long as the gop allows 20 percent of their members to call the shots, the next speaker will be as weak and ineffectual as late-era Boehner has been.

    Anyone would get tired of constantly having to act like the adult in the room and clean up the mess made by rowdy kids whose convictions are much stronger than their common sense or sense of duty, and I don’t blame Boehner for bailing.

    I think the job is McCarthy’s if he wants it, and I think he probably does, mainly because he’s a pol and pols don’t say no to higher office. His first job would be the same as Boehner’s, keeping the lid on through the presidential nomination and election.

  4. John Konop says:

    John Boehner has done a good job, keeping elements of the GOP from jumping off a cliff. I wonder if this is sign that the planned parenthood budget protest may shut the government down? Charlie is right, this is a tough job, keeping all in balance, I do think, Boehner will be missed.

  5. xdog says:

    Forgot to add that Ted Cruz must be smiling. I’ve been waiting for McConnell to drop an anvil on his head this month or next but now I’m wondering if Mitch might walk too.

  6. gcp says:

    If Boehner’s most important accomplishment is that he brought the pope to capitol hill, yes it is long past time for him to resign.

  7. Andrew C. Pope says:

    Looks like the resignation was done in exchange for a clean spending bill. I can’t possibly imagine the lunatic fringe is going to let go of their desire to cut PP and ACA funding so prepare for a testy reconciliation process.

    I can’t blame Boehner for resigning. His position became increasingly untenable after the 2014 midterms when the makeup of the GOP caucus shifted even further to the right. Further, the Democratic majority in the Senate provided him with the necessary cover to enable a lot of the far right’s initiatives and votes to defund Obamacare, because he was confident that the efforts would die silently in the Senate. When the GOP took control of the Senate, Boehner was suddenly the target for blame when conservative causes celebre went nowhere. Most often these issues were going nowhere because Boehner was acting like a grownup and trying to do what was in the best interest of the GOP, long term. The only thing saving McConnell in the Senate at this point appears to be the fact that establishment Republicans still outnumber the Tea Party crowd.

    Looks like the conservative wing got what they wanted. I think there is a very high risk that this blows up in their face and significantly harms the GOP in the Presidential election. Either way, its going to be a very very interesting next few months.

  8. jpm says:

    Some of us were amazed the republicans re-invested in Boehner when the party returned Boehner to power. The party ineffective leadership led Pelosi and her ilk to power, once the nation tired of Pelosi we returned the republicans to power and they promptly elected an ineffective leadership. Ineffective, but loyal to the party. For those that disagree and think Boehner was wonderful – QUICK name 5 things Boehner advanced per his promise when he assumed the Speaker’s gavel [ “economic freedom, individual liberty and personal responsibility…”].

    Here is how to read the resignation; 1) Good for the republicans that have splintered the party due to a lack of leadership following the expressed ‘values’ of the party. 2) Boehner proved he did not have the will to lead or forge leadership by his resignation today. Other Speakers had tougher rows to hoe than Boehner and accomplished more with less. 3) He is being sacrificed by a party concerned they will loose power due to a view of the “20%” of ineffective government. 4) Lobbyist in Washington are groaning. Boehner was the guy that passed tobacco lobbyist campaign checks out on the House floor… He is also the guy that forced the Air Force to buy extra engines for the Raptor that the AF did not want due to his ties with lobbyist in his 8th District.

    Republicans should be excited that they now have the opportunity to shed themselves of a burden and can now forge ahead. Boehner was, and McConnell is, a millstone around the party. Can you name one presidential candidate wanting Boehner to campaign for them? “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.” You have an opportunity. Don’t choke, again.

    The next question; does Gov. Kasich get to appoint to fill the term, or will a resignation in October allow a special election?

  9. northside101 says:

    “Republicans…can now forge ahead.”

    To what?

    Perhaps we should go back to Math 101:

    (1) Obama is in the White House (duh, you say…….). He like his predecessors has the veto power. Takes 67 votes to override. If three-fourths or so of the Democratic senators side with him (and most will since they mainly come from reliably liberal states—California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Washington–feel free to add your choices), his veto is sustained—despite all the threats, platitudes, angry speeches from Cruz and company.

    (2) It takes 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster. The last time the Republicans had 60 seats n the Senate? Bobby Jones was approaching the midst of his golf career, radio was spreading across the country, and FDR had just been stricken with polio. Like, try the early 1920s, about 95 years ago…thus, not likely to happen anytime soon.

    (3) Some Republican senators are elected from states that are not hard-right bastions—like Mark Kirk of Illinois and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, two states which last voted GOP for president when there was still a Soviet Union (1988, for the first President Bush, and only narrowly at that for both states). They can’t always toe the “Cruz line”.

    (4) And electing a GOP president is not a sure thing next year, much less even likely. Since 1992 (Bill Clinton), 18 states with a combined 242 electoral votes have voted Democratic for president every time—you know, some big states like California (55 electoral votes), New York (29 electoral votes) and Illinois (20 electoral votes). Another 3 states (Iowa, New Hampshire and New Mexico) have voted Democratic for president 5 of the last 6 times, for 15 combined electoral votes. That adds up to 257 electoral votes—just 13 of the 270 needed to win. And a Democrat could take Democratic-trending Virginia (which Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012) for 13 electoral votes, and there is victory (if barebones). 270 electoral votes—even if the GOP wins Florida and Ohio, and Colorado and Nevada. You might say for the Democrats, the road to victory (options) is as wide as 285, while for the Republicans, it is as narrow as a winding mountain road in Appalachia…thus hard to see how a government shutdown helps the GOP in areas where it has been losing ground. (Gingrich tried it as Speaker in the mid 1990 and a few years later as the GOP continued to lose House seats, he was forced out as Speaker, and by 2000, the GOP brand increasingly unpopular in the Northeast, Illinois and Pacific Coast states, the party nearly lost control of the House, even with the Bush win over Gore.

    Folks might say, “well, Gingrich got more done as Speaker than Boehner did.” Yes indeed, but as I just pointed out, the GOP lost seats under this tenure as Speaker. And he compromised with Bill Clinton to get a balanced budget.

    Like Charlie says, who would want the job?

    • Andrew C. Pope says:

      Great summary northside. I have a feeling that the House is going to start tilting at a lot of windmills.

      • xdog says:

        You mean like shutting down government? Inveighing against SCOTUS? Voting against ACA? Investigating Benghazi ad nauseum?

        Actually, nausea is the feeling I have right now. We may all look back with favor at a House that only staged show votes.

        • Andrew C. Pope says:

          I think the inability to satiate the Freedom Caucus with show votes is exactly why Boehner is getting out. Life was a lot easier when you could blame things on the Senate Democrats.

          • jpm says:

            Obviously a party alienating “20%” of what the party terms a “fringe group” within its own party is headed the way of the d0d0 bird. The public machinations against a group within the party also turned off enough House moderates within the party to make Boehner’s grasp on Speakership untenable. The Freedom Caucus does not have enough members to unseat Boehner, it took more outside the caucus siding with the Freedom Caucus to make Boehner’s Speakership worthless.

            The bottom line remains that more than half the voters that consider themselves republicans are unhappy with how the republicans are running the party. A poll that came out Friday showed 62% not happy with the direction of the party. Folks can blame and call the mood “fringe”,but that same “fringe” group gave the republicans a majority in the House, and a few years that same fringe group gave the republicans even more house members +the Senate. Enough of those fringe groups did sit home that the establishment republican did not obtain the WH. Call then “fringe” orany other derisive name you wish – but the republican needs the money and the votes and the support of the fringe to retain power.

            If I were to be so shallow to find myself a republican I would look at Boehner’s resignation as a huge opportunity to unite the House, and to try to regain that 62% to stay in power instead of ignoring what is going on in the State and nation.

            A party’s policy of surrender on key issues, and the party allowing itself to be held hostage to a threat of veto for 5 years is an absolute horrible legacy. You have an opportunity to unite your party and restore enough confidence to retain power.

  10. John Konop says:

    I wonder if people think this will increase chances of a shutdown or decrease?

    ……..“The shock announcement that Republican House Speaker John Boehner will retire in October has increased the odds of a shutdown, if not this week then in early December,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote to clients on Friday

    A continuing resolution would simply delay the fight until late November or December, by which time the debt ceiling would also need to be addressed. The government recently hit that $18.1 trillion limit, and the Treasury Department is again performing a financial juggling act to prevent a default, but those accounting maneuvers can’t go on indefinitely.

    Election-year pressures — the notion that Republicans don’t want to be blamed by voters for another shutdown — might also cut the other way. “Not only is there a multitude of Republican presidential nominees looking for a boost among the party’s base, but all of the House representatives and a third of the Senate will be up for election next year,” Ashworth notes. “Republicans will be under pressure to play hard ball to avoid nomination fights against more conservative candidates. Boehner’s retirement will only embolden the conservatives in Congress to push harder.”………..

  11. northside101 says:

    The GOP turmoil really is a reflection of the regional differences across the United States; the areas where the Republicans are the strongest—the Deep South and some of the border states, the Great Plains and some of the Rocky Mountain states—are the most conservative when it comes to social issues—things like abortion, same-sex marriage, gun ownership—and correspondingly are the areas where church membership and attendance run the highest. But some Republican congressmen hail from areas where those stances are anathema—suburbs of Chicago, Detroit and Washington DC, California. An article in the Economist (April 4, 2015) about how the South is different from the rest of the country highlighted those differences. For instance, of the 8 states (based on that article) where more than half the population claims to be “very religious”, 7 are in the South (the 1 exception being heavily Mormon Utah).

    So perhaps when it comes to the next Speaker, the question is what region is in control?

  12. seenbetrdayz says:

    My biggest criticism of Boehner was not that he was too liberal, or ineffective, or that he wouldn’t shut down government.

    People got tired of Boehner because he purged people from positions when they disagreed with him, and I guess he ran out of people to threaten and realized he’s made more enemies than friends with such tactics.

    A lot of GOPers talk a lot of smack about ‘big tent this’ and ‘big tent that’, but when you strip people of committee seats because they vote the way their constituents want them to vote, rather than voting the way the speaker wants, you send a message that it’s ‘my way or the highway’ rather than some inclusive party where everyone is welcome to a seat at the table.

    I don’t care if the next speaker is a full blown liberal whose policies would make even Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein blush, at least get someone in there who isn’t going to threaten someone into going against their constituents versus keeping committee assignments. Their loyalty is supposed to be to the people they serve, not the speaker, and I hope the next one gets that.

  13. D_in_ATL says:

    Really wish you guys would stop referring to the tea party lunatics as “the more conservative wing” of the GOP. It lends a certain respect that they don’t deserve. All they are good for is getting angry people to vote them into yet another term while accomplishing absolutely nothing. I’m sure most of you know that but are too afraid to actually call them out on it.

    • Scott65 says:

      When someone gives Rep Ted Yoho (Yahoo would be better descriptively) the respect of calling him anything short of stupid…they are being generous. Winning by dividing, hatred, and lying all comes crashing eventually…being “angry” is not a leadership quality one should strive for. Boehner will be sitting on the sidelines enjoying his Marco Island condo spending time with his grandkids this December when the CR which he will pass, because…why not, he doesn’t answer to the crazies now and will pass it with Democratic votes. Say what you want about Pelosi, but she kept her caucus in line, always new when she had the votes, and got priority legislation passed. Compared to her…anyone the right can come up with will be a joke.

  14. Oglewort says:

    A thoughtful quote from our outgoing Speaker Of The House: “It’s easy to have the courage to do what you can’t do. It’s a lot harder to do what you can actually get done.”

    I am a christian, conservative republican (in that order). Those in our party who are celebrating John Boehner’s resignation need to consider whether they are seeking a leader or just a soapbox. Leadership requires an ideology, but governing requires pragmatism. Our ‘right wing’ needs to learn the difference.

    • joe says:

      “I am a christian, conservative republican (in that order).” As a Christian, you should know that wrong is always wrong. As a conservative, you should understand that liberal spending policies are not sustainable. If you want to remain a Republican, you need to drop one of the other two.

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