The Tale of Two (Failed) Boehner Coups

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Not only are House Republicans divided, but its protest wing is divided, too, with two groups working separately on a failed coup against Speaker John Boehner last week. According to Roll Call's Jonathan Strong, the bigger group of plotters used the smaller one to avoid detection without the smaller one's knowledge. Because the little group blabbed to the conservative site Breitbart News all week, "one Republican member who participated in the larger coup attempt said Breitbart’s coverage of the smaller push actually helped keep their effort hidden because it suggested to Boehner and his allies that talk of a coup wasn’t serious," Roll Call reports. That's right: Even Republicans who would oust Boehner for not being conservative enough don't take Breitbart News seriously. 

The little coup was led by former Rep. Jeff Landry, who told Breitbart his group had 17 to 20 lawmakers who would vote against Boehner. The big coup, whose leader Roll Call doesn't name, had 25 members, but one person dropped out the day of the vote. The group had imposed a rule on itself that it wouldn't go through with the coup with less than 25 votes, despite needing just 17 to force a second vote. In the end, only nine Republicans voted against Boehner, two abstained from voting, and one voted present.

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It appears the big group was more savvy than the little group. Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp was photographed by Politico checking out a list of anti-Boehner Republicans on an iPad on the House floor. Many on the list ended up voting for Boehner, and outgoing Rep. Steve LaTourette mocked Huelskamp's list for its naiveté. In an interview with The Atlantic's Molly Ball, LaTourette said:

They should kick them all out of the Republican conference. The picture in Politico of a sitting Republican member of Congress on the floor with an iPad showing a screen with a whip count to deny the Republicans the speakership of the House is asinine. This is what I'm talking about: These guys are OK when it comes to ideology and dogma, but they don't have a clue how to participate in the legislative process.

I don't know what their objective is. If it was to deny the speakership to Boehner and hand it to Mrs. Pelosi, I don't know how their cause would have been furthered. If it's to force the vote to a second ballot to make some demands, well, who the hell do these people think they are? Twelve out of 233, and they're making demands? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.