Updated January 5, 10:05 p.m.
Barring a stunner, John Boehner will be reelected as speaker when the House convenes for the beginning of the 114th Congress. But as opposition from conservatives trickles out, it appears Boehner won't be able to escape the indignity of watching a dozen or more members of his own party refuse to support him in a public vote shortly after noon on Tuesday.
Two Republicans, Representatives Ted Yoho of Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas, have launched what can only be described as extreme long-shot bids to challenge Boehner during the formal floor vote. And several other GOP lawmakers have cited a range of grievances—the $1 trillion "omnibus" spending bill, insufficiently aggressive conservative governance, broken promises—in declaring they won't support the Ohioan. What does it all amount to? While short of a coup, the late protests will ensure that for the second consecutive term, a vote that is ordinarily a formality will carry with it the potential for high drama.
At the beginning of each Congress, the first vote the House takes is to elect a speaker. The two candidates are generally the leaders each party has nominated by secret-ballot votes, and with rare exceptions, what follows is a ceremonial party-line vote in which lawmakers stand when their name is called and shout the name of their side's nominee. But in 2013, Boehner's allies watched nervously as 12 Republicans either voted for someone else or no one at all. (A lawmaker can vote for almost anyone; the Constitution doesn't require the speaker to even be a member of the House.) The badly-organized effort ultimately fell a few votes short, but for several long minutes in the House chamber, it was unclear whether Boehner would be able to muster the majority needed to claim the speaker's gavel.