• House GOP Considers Rule Change
  • October 3, 2014
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • House Republicans are considering a change in their rules when it comes to voting for Speaker of the House. The new rule will apparently punish any House GOP member who voted on the floor against the conference’s nominee for Speaker. Specifically, a member who does so would be stripped of all committee assignments for that Congress.

    There is a growing concern that a sizeable block of conservative members could vote against Speaker Boehner on the House floor. Some have estimated as many as 30 to 40 members could do so.

    Republicans would still be allowed to vote for anyone in those closed-door internal elections, during which members choose their leadership officials for the next Congress. But once a majority of the conference has voted for their candidate as speaker, that decision will be final. When the House holds its chamber-wide vote for speaker on the first day of the new Congress, all Republicans will be expected to support the party's nominee. Next year, barring any surprise development, Boehner will be that nominee.

    At the same time, according to sources, conservative lawmakers are discussing something of a counter-proposal. Under their plan, the November leadership elections would be pushed back until after the lame-duck session of Congress ends in December. This idea was described by one House conservative as a preemptive strike to warn leadership not to consider any significant legislation during the 15-day "lame-duck" period between November's midterm elections and the start of the new Congress.

    Twelve House Republicans refused to vote for Boehner's reelection in January 2013 at the outset of the 113th Congress. This level of dissent was insufficient to oust Boehner from the speakership, but served to embarrass the speaker and publicly air the party's dirty laundry. The incident infuriated Boehner's allies, who claimed no opposition was voiced privately during the conference elections—an affront to the traditional process of keeping internal campaigns private.

    Still, even with plenty of members upset over that 2013 incident, adopting this proposal won't be easy. A majority of House Republicans must vote for any change to the conference rules, and some lawmakers would certainly oppose the change. Such sweeping punitive measures would be difficult to keep under wraps, such as Boehner and the Steering Committee did in late 2012 when three outspoken conservatives were kicked off committees for failing to support party initiatives.