WASHINGTON — John Boehner was elected to a third term as Speaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday after a tense floor vote that saw a remarkably large chunk of his own party attempt to remove him.
Opposition to Boehner doubled from the last election for Speaker in 2013, when a dozen Republicans voted against him. He ultimately received 216 votes, enough to fend off an embarrassing vote on a second ballot but plenty to reinforce the notion that Boehner is struggling to maintain control over restive House Republicans.
The dramatic scene played out before live television cameras, as members were called upon one-by-one to stand and name who they were backing to serve as the next Speaker.
Despite the opposition facing him, Boehner was greeted by a standing ovation after he was nominated by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Tuesday and his wife, Debbie, watched the floor action from the Speaker’s box.
Boehner begins the 114th Congress with a new Republican controlled Senate and big plans to enact a conservative agenda. President Barack Obama will meet with congressional leadership next week.
But the contentious election just to secure Boehner’s job is a sign that the same dynamic he’s seen in the last four years- resistance from conservatives – will continue to hamper his ability to govern the House.
The Speaker began reaching out to members the day after the midterm elections, and he and his allies continued to make calls and appeals for support right up until the vote on Tuesday afternoon, according to a senior House GOP leadership aide. As the top fundraiser for his party he raised over $100 million for GOP members and candidates and traveled to more than 150 events over the 2014 midterm cycle.
But Boehner’s time and effort on behalf of other Republicans didn’t automatically earn him another term in the Speaker’s chair.
Incoming freshman GOP Rep Lee Zeldin, of New York, who Boehner stumped for shortly before his election, told CNN hours before the vote he was still keeping his options open. He noted that since the roll call would be alphabetical he would be one of the last to cast his ballot.