Top House Republican leaders are rallying behind House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who once again faces a percolating effort by a group of conservative lawmakers to oust him from the job.
“That’s a distraction,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Thursday following a closed-door lawmaker meeting at the Republican National Committee. “Let’s focus on what we brought here to do.”
McCarthy and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released companion statements earlier on Thursday to Politico in support of the Ohio Republican.
“I support John Boehner as speaker,” McCarthy said. “The intrigue and fighting amongst ourselves only makes it harder to get that done. It ought to stop immediately.”
Added Ryan: “The best person to lead the conference right now is John Boehner, and any attempt to remove him would be counterproductive.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., added her voice to the chorus of support: “John Boehner is the right man at this time to be our speaker. He’s gained our trust over many years, and he has my support.”
Boehner has faced — and survived — similar threats in his nearly five-year tenure as speaker. In 2013, a dozen conservative lawmakers opposed his election to speaker on the House floor. Two years later, the number of opponents rose to 25.
Now, a small group of lawmakers, mainly comprised of members of a conservative faction called the House Freedom Caucus, are frustrated by the inability of a GOP-controlled Congress to advance a more conservative agenda.
In particular, some conservatives want to wage a bigger fiscal war over the funding of Planned Parenthood which has been caught in a storm of controversy following the release of videos on its fetal-tissue program.
GOP leaders do not want another government-shutdown fight, and are trying to find a compromise to address lawmakers’ Planned Parenthood opposition and keep the government running.
Further fueling the push to oust Boehner is outside conservative activist groups that have clashed with the GOP establishment, as well as some prominent voices in conservative media who have criticized his leadership.
One Republican, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a member of the Freedom Caucus, has introduced a resolution that would seek to oust Boehner from the job. Boehner has shrugged it off, calling the move “no big deal.”
GOP leaders have shown no interest in allowing a vote on it, but conservatives have the ability to force a vote on the floor — they just haven’t tried yet.
Asked Thursday if he was confident that he would have the support to win a vote on the House floor, Boehner offered a one-word response: “Very.”