Rumors that House Speaker John Boehner has cut a deal with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on a clean funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security has put the Ohio Republican’s job in peril.
Some talk is floating around Capitol Hill that the conservative wing may try to oust its own party leader.
Congress passed a stopgap measure late Friday to continue funding Homeland Security for one week, with Democratic support reportedly hinging on Boehner’s promise to allow a vote next week on a long-term funding bill that makes no mention of stopping President Obama’s overreaching executive amnesty, according to Fox News.
Neither side has confirmed that such a deal exists.
Conservative lawmakers are part of a 50-plus member coalition called the Freedom Caucus, according to Fox News, and they insist on using the power of the purse, through a Homeland Security funding bill, to defund what they see as Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty efforts.
And they appear to be running out of patience with Boehner.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., clearly no friend of the Freedom Caucus, offered some validity to rumors of a possible Boehner removal effort.
“Right now, we have to get serious, I think a lot of people better get serious about governing, and it’s time for all of these, you know, D.C. games to end,” he said, according to CNN. “I mean all these palace coups or whatever the hell is going on around here has to end, and we have to get down to business of governing.”
Any effort to unseat Boehner would be unprecedented, and while the process is less than clear, Fox News reported that members “could write a ‘privileged’ resolution declaring that the speakership is vacant. The House would then vote on that motion or possibly vote to table or kill it.”
The process is described in Jefferson’s Manual, a key resource governing House operations and written by Thomas Jefferson 214 years ago that is still used today.
Staunch conservatives rebelled against Boehner in January during speaker elections, but they could only muster 25 defections. Several alternatives emerged but failed to attract significant support, with U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., drawing the second-most votes with 12.
But Boehner may have a way out of the quagmire.
According to Roll Call, an obscure rule “tucked deep in the House rule book” could provide an escape route for the speaker. It involves a complicated parliamentarian process that allows any member to make a motion to support Senate approval of a clean funding bill.
“Because such a motion is ‘privileged,’ that would then trigger a vote on sending the Senate-amended full year Homeland Security appropriations bill to Obama’s desk without any of those riders designed to block his executive actions on immigration,” Roll Call reported.
It would require a few dozen Republican lawmakers to vote with their Democratic colleagues to pass the motion, and that shouldn’t be difficult for GOP leadership to muster.
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