Right-wing Republicans are reportedly organizing a coup against House Speaker John Boehner — and if they get their way, Paul Ryan could end up holding the speaker’s gavel.
Speaker Boehner — who is currently the least popular leader in Congress — has long struggled to control the right-wing flank of his party, but his disastrous failure to pass his “Plan B” budget deal crystallized the problem in a highly public way.
In response, some on the right are mobilizing to replace Boehner with a House speaker who drops Boehner’s pretense of being willing to negotiate with the White House, and who sticks more purely to extreme conservative dogma.
According to Matthew Boyle of the far-right website Breitbart News, conservative House Republicans have already laid the groundwork to do just that. Boyle reports that several members and staffers are quietly circulating a multi-step plan to oust Boehner as speaker on January 3rd. The first step of the plan would be to change House rules to elect the speaker by secret ballot instead of by a public roll-call vote; this would protect the congressmen who vote against Boehner from retribution.
The plotters are confident that such a measure would succeed, because Boehner himself has passionately argued in favor of secret ballots in the past. While opposing the Employee Free Choice Act — ironically, a favorite target of the right wing that now has Boehner in its sights — the speaker wrote a 2009 op-ed stressing that secret ballots protect against “coercion” and “intimidation.” In a document laying out the plan to oust Boehner (which can be viewed on Breitbart.com), the anonymous staffers behind the planned coup note that Boehner would be in the “impossible position of opposing secret ballot or being confronted on the Floor with his own, indicting op-ed.”