Delilah Jean Williams

John Boehner had a rough year in 2012 and a worse few days at the beginning of 2013. The beleaguered Speaker of the House barely retained his job by a narrow 6-vote margin, getting a total of 220 votes, with 214 needed to win.

Many Republicans, still steaming after Boehner refused to put a Sandy relief package on the floor, voted against him. His bungled “Plan B” effort, which imploded just hours before the vote by his caucus, was also a source of aggravation for fellow members.

During the verbal floor-call, a few Republicans threw in snarky anti-Boehner votes for the likes of ousted Tea Party darling Allen West and Obama supporter Colin Powell.

Although some reports said Boehner’s fear, uncertainty and suspicions of an organized coup were the reasons he pulled the Sandy-package vote New Year’s Day, it’s unlikely that Boehner knew exactly how organized his opposition was or how close he came to being voted out.

A new report in Roll Call revealed that in addition to a public plot to overthrow Boehner, led by former Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), there were secretive meetings and backroom deals being pulled together in a last-minute push to rally votes against him. Landry lost re-election to Boehner ally Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. in a Republican head-to-head contest brought about by redistricting.

The report said small groups had concluded independently that new leadership was needed and decided to band together, unbeknownst to Boehner and other GOP leaders.

The report claimed (in part):

A group of disaffected conservatives had agreed to vote against Boehner if they could get at least 25 members to join the effort. But one member, whose identity could not be verified, rescinded his or her participation the morning of the vote, leaving the group one person short of its self-imposed 25-member threshold. Only 17 votes against Boehner were required to force a second ballot, but the group wanted to have insurance. Even with 24 members, the group would easily have been able to force a second ballot round, but the effort was aborted in frenetic discussions on the House floor.

The plot was called off just 30 minutes before the official vote on the floor took place. A particular sticking point, evidently, was who to support as speaker if they shut out Boehner?

Meanwhile, Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, have put aside their differences and are lining up to do battle over the debt ceiling and refocus their scorn once again at Democrats and the president instead of each other.


Jean Williams, environmental journalist; PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.

PrairieDogPress is the media channel for, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.