William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






POLITICAL DRAMA – AT 10:08 AM. ET:  The speaker of the House is elected today.  Speaker John Boehner is up for re-election, but there is informed speculation – and we stress the word "speculation" – that he might have trouble keeping his job.  From Breitbart:

The Speaker of the House will be elected today and some conservatives believe they have the votes necessary to oust John Boehner. In an appearance on CNBC, American Majority Action spokesman Ron Meyer said there are more than 20 House Republicans willing to vote for someone other than Boehner on Thursday when the 113th Congress convenes to elect a Speaker. Another source from a different organization has similarly confirmed that more than 20 have planned to oppose Boehner.

Interpreting the numbers:  It would only take a small number of Republican defections to bring Boehner down.  Remember that the entire House votes for speaker, including the Dems.  You need a majority to win.  The GOP controls the house.  But if enough Republicans withhold their votes, and Boehner gets less than 50%, he's effectively out, and the House goes on to consider other candidates.

Meyer and AMA correctly predicted Republican opposition to Boehner’s fiscal cliff “Plan B" and the overwhelming House Republican opposition to Vice President Joe Biden’s and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s fiscal cliff deal that passed the House on Tuesday evening.

Outgoing Louisiana Republican Rep. Jeff Landry made a similar prediction earlier in the evening, telling Breitbart News that between the required minimum 17 members and 20 were on board at that point.
Despite rumors that he might do so, Boehner did not resign at a Republican conference meeting Wednesday night.

The reason why some, including Landry, thought Boehner would resign Wednesday is because that group of members supposedly approached Boehner and offered him a way to avoid the public fight that will likely take place on Thursday. An emergency Republican conference meeting was called on Wednesday evening and Boehner’s decision not to resign sent a message to those who want to unseat him that he believes he will survive tomorrow's vote.

Freshman Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas is on the record publicly stating he’ll oppose Boehner on Thursday, but the members also need a leader to rally around. Though there has been speculation that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor may emerge, his spokesperson would not respond to Breitbart News’ inquiries about whether he would. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy also would not go on the record as supportive of Boehner.

COMMENT:  We'll see.  My guess is that Boehner will squeek by, but will be listening to a lot of grumbles.  He has a very difficult job, balancing the different factions within the Republican Party, while negotiating with the Chicago crowd in the White House.  He's aging fast.

January 3, 2013