As conservatives weigh whether to challenge House Speaker John Boehner—waiting to see how he handles upcoming fights on Planned Parenthood and the debt ceiling—high-ranking Republicans are sticking by their leader.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., backed Boehner and said efforts to oust him are distracting the party from focusing on policy issues.
McCarthy and Ryan are seen as natural successors to Boehner, R-Ohio, if he were to be removed as speaker.
At the weekly GOP leadership news conference, McCarthy strongly endorsed Boehner.
“If we deal in this type of debate, we only weaken ourselves from what we want to achieve,” McCarthy said, as Boehner and other House leaders stood next to him.
Ryan also dismissed conservative attempts to challenge Boehner.
“The best person to lead the conference right now is John Boehner, and any attempt to remove him would be counterproductive,” Ryan told Politico.
Late Thursday morning, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the No. 4 member of the leadership team, also issued a statement defending Boehner.
Earlier this summer, Rep. Mark Meadows presented the strongest challenge to Boehner when he presented a motion to vacate the chair, an extraordinary measure of no confidence in the speaker of the House that hadn’t been used in a century.
Lawmakers did not vote on the motion at the time.
But Meadows and other members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus told The Daily Signal that any member could bring up the motion for a vote depending on how Boehner handles upcoming fights in Congress.
“It is a critical time for our leadership to listen to the American people,” Meadows told The Daily Signal in August.
“If we have a leadership that becomes responsive, then nothing happens with the resolution. If they are not responsive, the only thing we can change at this particular point is the speaker of the House, and then that certainly is on the table.”
Boehner went along with conservative demands on how to approach the Iran nuclear deal—his first test since Congress returned from recess.
The House voted on a three-pronged plan meant to challenge President Obama and his negotiating team over “side deals” that opponents allege should have been submitted to Congress.
Democrats today for the third time blocked a vote on a measure to reject the deal.
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, today is the final day for Congress to reject the deal, so the agreement will go through.
Meanwhile, Boehner and his leadership team are still deciding how to attack Planned Parenthood.
Freedom Caucus member Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said he is encouraged by House leadership’s handling of the Iran issue—and that the underlying motive of Meadows’ motion is already paying off.
“If there is any kind of organized effort to replace Boehner based on how he deals with Planned Parenthood, I am totally unaware of it,” Fleming told The Daily Signal today.
“The plain truth is that Mark offered his motion as a way to create dialogue. And now it sits in the background looking over these decisions. If we continue to disappoint the American people and not fight President Obama’s extreme agenda, than something more serious may happen. But if leadership listens, it reduces the chance of that.”