Roughly 80 minutes before the new House of Representatives assembled to vote for speaker, Sarah Palin joined the rebellion against John Boehner.
"It's time for new energy and positive progress in Congress," the former Alaska governor wrote in (of course) a Facebook post. "Please consider 'Gunnin' for Gohmert' or going 'Yahoo for Yoho' when you vote for Speaker of the House today. Both Representatives are true Constitutional, commonsense conservatives who've proven to America they keep their promises to We the People. They know they serve America, not the power brokers in DC. "
Prose aside (typically, "gunning for" means "setting yourself against"), Palin knew a hot cause when she saw it. From the public vote counts and from conversations with Republicans, it's clear that that fewer than 218 Republicans are excited to back Boehner. It's also clear that some of the malcontents will vote for Boehner anyway. The timing of the rebellion hasn't worked for them.
"I listen to my constituents, and I respect what they have to say," said Louisiana Representative John Fleming, after talking about the surge of anti-Boehner phone calls into his office. "What I'm telling them is that if we were gonna do that, it should have been done in the fall. This isn't the time to do that. It isn't going to work."
Fleming was referring to the post-election leadership votes that chose the 114th Congress's GOP team, from Boehner to Kevin McCarthy to Steve Scalise. The quibble on the right is that those votes were taken in the flush of victory–before the negotiations that forced the so-called cromnibus onto members. Several members, speaking as they entered and exited a Monday night conference, said that they'd started getting angry feedback ever since the cromnibus vote, which did not cut funding for either the president's immigration policy or the Affordable Care Act. The cromnibus was also the umpteenth bill that sailed through without any pretense that members had taken 72 hours to read it. That had been a Republican promise in 2010, and even though the party had won an election after abandoning that promise, some members were nostalgic.
"Committees must be given enough time to do their work," said Michigan Representative Justin Amash in a Facebook message explaining his coming vote against Boehner. "Rank-and-file members must have sufficient time to read and debate legislation that can profoundly affect the lives of our constituents. We have been told much over the last few years about opening up the House’s legislative process and returning to regular order. Yet time and again, it seems that Congress governs by crisis and raw partisanship."
More members agree with that than will vote with Amash today. They'll just give Boehner a chance. Pennsylvania Representative Lou Barletta, who won his House seat after some tumultuous years enforcing anti-illegal immigration policies in his city of Hazleton, acknowledged that the cromnibus had disappointed him.
"I don't think we would have gotten what Lou Barletta wanted in that bill," he said. "I've been fighting illegal immigration since I was mayor in 2006. I figured I could wait a couple of weeks."
Barletta said he would give the bill, and Boehner, a chance. "He's had to deal with Harry Reid," he said. "He deserves a chance to deal with a Republican Senate."
Still, minutes before the vote, Gohmert was telling reporters that the rebels were alive and kicking and had a strategy. Anyone telling members to vote for either him or Yoho was being helpful.
"The goal is to throw it to another vote and if necessary another vote, and then eventually we'll have a conference," said Gohmert to Bloomberg News' Jonathan Allen.