(Update) Mutiny on the Boehner

FreedomWorksI posted about Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and his “motion to vacate the chair” to unseat the TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, back in July. Mutiny on the Boehner.

With Congress set to return after the August recess, Meadows’ motion is suddenly back in the news as the side-show to watch when Congress returns.

Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon, a co-founder of the farther-far-right “House Freedom Caucus,” Freedom is just another word for another wingnut group  — the caucus is made up of Reps. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), John Fleming (R-La.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — that has been making the TanMan’s life a living hell since January, told the Arizona Republic that he is prepared to vote to remove the TanMan from his Speakership this fall. Matt Salmon predicts, backs effort to oust House Speaker Boehner:

Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., says he won’t vote for House Speaker John Boehner to remain leader of the GOP majority and believes a conservative insurrection to replace him this fall is inevitable.

The congressman drew applause Tuesday at a town hall of about 50 people in Queen Creek as he spoke about the potential for a leadership shakeup and another government shutdown.

“There will probably be some real fights between us and leaders of our own party. It’s probably going to get really ugly. And it may even result in a change in some of our leadership,” Salmon said. “I’m hopeful it will.”

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., has said he may file a motion after Congress returns to work next week to force a floor vote on who should be House speaker.

“I’ve cast my last vote for John Boehner,” Salmon said, as audience members cheered.

Salmon said conservatives are upset with the Ohio Republican for breaking promises to fight “tooth and nail” on priorities such as blocking President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration. He thinks Boehner “will buckle again” on conservatives’ anticipated push this month to tie defunding of Planned Parenthood to must-pass appropriations bills.

Arizona’s wingnut congressman is targeting the wrong GOP leader. Mitch McConnell: This Congress won’t be able to defund Planned Parenthood.

Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog has an interesting insight into the reason why. Anti-Choicers Pulling the Punch on Planned Parenthood?

Assuming Ben Domenech knows his right-wingers, which I would guess is the one thing he does infallibly know, he’s solved a big mystery for us in a column yesterday. A few weeks ago the whole hep conservative world was aflame with promises and threats about defunding Planned Parenthood, even if it took a government shutdown.

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According to Domenech, it was actually the big antichoice groups that called off the dogs:

For the time being, Capitol Hill Republican leaders are on the same page as the national pro-life groups – a shutdown strategy is not their preference, because it makes it more likely Democrats will win in 2016, and that means you miss probably your best opportunity in a generation to get rid of Roe v. Wade. Capitol Hill Republicans are looking to the pro-life groups to provide them cover by not scoring a Planned Parenthood-funding continuing resolution, and most of the big groups are expected to go along with this strategy.

Wow. If the National Right to Life Committee doesn’t support dragging the whole country to the bottom of hell in order to kill off its bitter enemies at Planned Parenthood, then why should anyone else?

Apparently Matt Salmon and the House Freedom Caucus haven’t got the memo.

Russell Berman at The Atlantic has more on the House Freedom Caucus Plot Against Planned Parenthood and John Boehner:

With federal funding set to expire on September 30, conservatives are once again demanding a standoff that Boehner and McConnell are hell-bent on avoiding. This time around, the issue that might prevent an orderly—if temporary—extension of funding is Planned Parenthood. Along with Cruz, House conservatives insist that any spending bill sent to President Obama’s desk explicitly prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to the women’s health organization, which has come under fire over undercover videos that purportedly show its officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Democrats have rallied around Planned Parenthood, and an effort to ax its approximately $500 million in annual funding is likely to fall short, either by running into a filibuster in the Senate or a presidential veto.

So what makes this fight any different? For starters, conservatives who once acknowledged the futility of the 2013 shutdown have become emboldened by the anti-establishment fervor sweeping the Republican presidential race, where political novices Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina are all surging in the polls. And second, these same members are now openly threatening a revolt against Boehner through a rarely-used procedural maneuver that could—conceivably—oust him from power.

The latter idea was the brainchild of Representative Mark Meadows, a second-term Republican from North Carolina, and it began in July on something of a lark. Shortly before the August recess, Meadows introduced what’s known as a “motion to vacate the chair.” If successful, it would trigger the election of a new speaker. Republican leaders briefly considered calling a vote on the measure to prove Boehner retained enough support to remain in office. Yet Meadows—or any other member—has the power to force a floor vote within 48 hours through the introduction of a “privileged resolution.” Such a move hasn’t worked in the House in 105 years, but after initially dismissing Meadows’s move as poorly-timed and somewhat bizarre, his allies now see it as something else: leverage.

“I was originally against Mark’s doing what he did,” Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina conservative, told me by phone. But after hearing from angry constituents in August, he said he’s come around. “Now folks know that the issue of a vote of no confidence is on the table and that if the leadership doesn’t change its course, then it’s sort of hanging over their head like a sword of Damocles.”

For Republicans like Mulvaney, the rise of Trump and the strength of other anti-establishment candidates like Carson, Fiorina, and, Cruz is proof that GOP leaders like Boehner and McConnell have been vastly underestimating the party’s grassroots. What Boehner and McConnell like to dismiss as the fringe, in other words, is actually the majority.

Anti-abortion conservatives view the defunding of Planned Parenthood as a no-brainer, both substantively and politically. “This is so wrong that there is no way we can allow taxpayer money to continue to go to this organization,” said Representative Jim Jordan, who leads a newly formed group called the House Freedom Caucus. Like Mulvaney, he rejected the idea that conservatives were pushing the GOP down the same perilous road seen in 2013. “This is a completely different dynamic here,” he argued. “You’ve got an organization on video advocating and engaged in activity that everyone knows is wrong and that appears to be criminal.”

There’s no question the videos have been damaging to the organization, and there’s little dispute among Republicans that it shouldn’t receive government support, especially when the money could simply be shifted to other women’s health groups that are less contentious. But as has been the norm for Republicans in recent years, a debate over tactics has taken on outsized significance. “Our leadership has probably one chance left to save the party, and it’s on Planned Parenthood,” Mulvaney told me. “And if they don’t, if they put up a show vote, or if they sort of say they’re going to fight but then don’t because they knew that’s what they’re going to do anyway, then the party is done, and Donald Trump will be our nominee, and it will redefine what it means to be a Republican. I don’t know if they get it.”

A Boehner spokesman said no decisions on the spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, would be made until lawmakers return to Washington next week. McConnell has been more blunt. Since taking over in January, the Senate majority leader has been in the business of managing expectations while Obama remains in office. He’s sworn off another shutdown, and on Tuesday he conceded that the conservatives’ Planned Parenthood strategy is destined to fail. “We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” McConnell told WYMT in Kentucky.

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To many Republicans, that’s just an honest assessment of the political reality. To conservatives like Cruz, Mulvaney, and Jordan, it’s defeatist. Cruz, who accused McConnell of lying to Republicans earlier in the summer, has already vowed an aggressive fight to defund Planned Parenthood in December. And how many of the other 16 Republican presidential candidates join his call could determine the level of outside pressure McConnell and Boehner will face. McConnell, however, has a firmer hold on his position than Boehner, who lost a record 25 Republican votes when he was reelected as speaker in January and has shown a tendency to underestimate the level of opposition within his conference.

Would Meadows actually pull the trigger and force a vote to try to remove Boehner? He was vague during an interview on Tuesday, saying that his resolution was designed to prod the leadership into including more conservative voices in its decision-making and agreeing to other process reforms. “For me it’s more about changing the way that we do business as opposed to changing the actual person,” Meadows told me. “A lot of it will depend on what happens during the month of September and maybe the few weeks that follow that.” Meadows, who was briefly stripped of a subcommittee chairmanship for voting against the leadership, has criticized a “culture of punishment” in the House GOP, but he said his effort was not aimed at retribution for himself. The Planned Parenthood fight, he said, would be “a huge factor” but not “a litmus test” in his decision.

Boehner’s allies have scoffed at Meadows’s maneuver, in large part because neither he nor any of his conservative colleagues have put forward a plan—or an alternative Republican candidate—if the speaker is actually deposed (which remains an unlikely scenario). Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma likened it to “blackmail” and said it was “a very reckless strategy” that could empower Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. “If they want to bring it up, bring it up,” Cole said. “I’m tired of people threatening members of their own team. What’s wrong here is Republicans treating other Republicans like they’re the enemy.”

On Planned Parenthood, Cole said he strongly supported defunding the group, but not if it led to a government shutdown. “Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you actually have the political power to accomplish it,” he said. “Go win some elections. I think we’re always inclined to reach beyond what we can do. You get a different president, we’ll take care of Planned Parenthood. But having a fight this fall that you can’t win? That strikes me as unrealistic.”

Whether victory is realistic or not, the question of when and how far to fight has divided Republicans for four years. And as the debate over Planned Parenthood and government funding will soon show, that battle rages on, as strong as ever.

So we get to be entertained by the wingnuts devouring each other while failing to do the business of the country — passing the appropriations bills before the September 30 deadline — setting up another government shutdown over internal GOP party politics.

Just kick them all out of office. Enough is enough.

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