On the same week that House Speaker John Boehner is savoring one of the coups of his career—an historic Thursday visit by Pope Francis to the U.S. Capitol that the Ohio Republican engineered—some members of his own party were pressing to score a coup of their own. Against Boehner.
This week, there were signs that the speaker's political troubles extended all the way to Houston, Texas, where the executive committee of the Harris County Republican Party this week passed a resolution calling on the 25 Texas Republican members of the House of Representatives to vote for his ouster.
“We're sick and tired of John Boehner,” said Thomas Bazan, a Houston-area party precinct chairman and author of a resolution approved by at least 100 members of that executive committee Monday night calling on the entire U.S. House delegation to Texas to support of Boehner's ouster. No dissenting voices were heard by those in the room.
According to its text, a copy the resolution was to be “transmitted electronically to each of the Republican members of the U.S. House delegation within 24 hours.” That was done, but Bazan, in an interview Wednesday, said he had gotten no response “in writing” yet from members, including Houston-area U.S. Representatives Pete Olson, Michael McCaul, John Culberson, and Ted Poe. None of their offices responded to requests from Bloomberg News Wednesday for comment. Kevin Smith, a Boehner spokesman, had no immediate comment.
The local party resolution, which reads like a bill of attainder, comes amid rumblings in Washington that disgruntled rank-and-file members of the House Republican conference may soon maneuver to unseat Boehner, an Ohioan who has been speaker since 2011.
Boehner, a plain-spoken pragmatist, is often under fire from conservatives in his party who think he's too willing to cut deals with the opposing party. Their latest beef with the speaker: His lack of enthusiasm for a plan by some Republicans to hold funding for the U.S. government hostage if the Obama administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill don't agree to end $500 million in annual payments for Planned Parenthood. (Bloomberg Philanthropies provides financial support for the organization.)
While there have been frequent rumors about House factions plotting against Boehner, this appears to be the first overt act of mutiny by a Republican party organization. Bazan said he was not following the lead of any other local Republican committees that he is aware of, but said “Houston is always a leader.”
Speculation about Boehner's vulnerability accelerated this summer with the filing by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina of a motion to “vacate the chair,” a long-shot procedural move that if successful could lead to Boehner's removal. Meadows has not said if or when he will seek to press action on that. The Harris County resolution refers to the Meadows motion, and urges Texas lawmakers to support it, takes Boehner to task for disciplining renegade members of his caucus, bamboozling others, and of working with Democrats.