Boehner Spirals Deeper Into Irrelevancy as He ‘Leads’ a Party That Refuses to Follow

boehner smug

The Washington Post’s latest whip count on the resolution to authorize force in Syria reveals just how irrelevant Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have become in the Republican dominated House. While the two men are the nominal leaders of the GOP House caucus, the word “leaders” at this point is simply a technical term to define two politically impotent figure heads, as neither man is capable of exercising any real leadership over the recalcitrant Republican party members in the House. Boehner and Cantor head one direction, the rest of the party lurches the other way.

The upcoming Syria resolution vote illustrates in stark terms how inept the supposed leaders of the GOP caucus have become. Boehner and Cantor were quick to support Obama’s call to action on Syria, putting partisan politics aside for a common national purpose. Yet, they have demonstrated that they have lost control of their own caucus, because the number of GOP representatives who have chosen to join them in support of the policy can almost be counted on one hand. Of the 232 House Republicans not named Cantor or Boehner, a grand total of six of them, have joined in expressing support for the authorization of force in Syria.  Bohner and Cantor no longer preside over the House GOP Caucus, they merely preside over half a dozen Republican men- Tim Cotton (AR), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Luke Messer (IN), Mike Pompeo (KS), Mike Rogers (MI),  and Peter King (NY).  Boehner and Cantor lead three little known congressional back benchers, Rogers, Cotton and the rabidly Islamophobic Peter King.  While 62 Republican House members are still listed as undecided, 164 of them are firm no votes or leaning no votes. So the score is Cantor and Boehner 6, the forces of party mutiny 164.

While the vote has not been held yet, it is pretty clear at this point that  an overwhelming  majority of the GOP House is poised to vote against their party’s House leadership on the Syria resolution. The Tea Party mutiny is underway once again. Boehner has struggled to corral his caucus on bipartisan measures time and again.

Earlier this year he failed to bring immigration reform to the floor because a majority of his caucus was opposed and he chose not to violate the so-called “Hastert Rule”, which is invoked to prevent bringing legislation up for a vote if more Republicans will vote against a bill than for it. On three other occasions, Boehner has brought votes to the floor that have failed to gain a majority of GOP support in the House chamber. For example, when Boehner agreed to bring re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) up for a vote, 138 Republicans voted “no” while only 87 (including Boehner) voted “yes” to pass the bill designed to curb domestic violence against women.

Boehner lost control of the GOP caucus long ago. The upcoming Syria vote is simply confirmation of what is already well known in Washington. The Republican Party House leadership has completely squandered their control over the GOP caucus, and as the mutiny spreads within the GOP ranks, Boehner and Cantor are spiraling deeper and deeper into political irrelevancy.


Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master's Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick's successful re-election bid in Arizona's 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.

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