The congressman who first challenged House Speaker John Boehner for his job at the beginning of the year says he’s not surprised by Boehner’s resignation, and he implores House Republicans to worry less about the new leaders and more about forging a commitment to solve the nation’s problems with a bold determination to pursue conservative principles.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., challenged Boehner for the speaker’s chair at the start of the 114th Congress in January. Several other Republicans followed Yoho’s lead. Boehner survived the insurgency but only after 25 House Republicans voted against the House speaker.
While most of Washington was stunned by the timing of Boehner’s announcement on Friday, Yoho was not.
“It was anticipated. We saw that coming,” he told WND and Radio America. “There was just too much pressure on him to move on. I’m not taking anything away from Mr. Boehner for what he has accomplished, but at this point in time in our country’s history, we need truly different leadership.”
On Friday, Boehner scoffed at suggestions he could lose a subsequent vote for speaker and that he simply didn’t want to put his members through another ugly, public fight. Yoho said America will never know if Boehner critics would have won such a vote, but he said it would have been nowhere near the cake walk that Boehner predicted.
“Yeah, it was going to be very contentious,” Yoho said. “I say that because people were coming up to me that had talked to the rank-and-file and said if another vote came up for speaker, they couldn’t support him. I think that was building up.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.:
Yoho and other conservatives have several frustrations with Boehner’s leadership, but he said the lack of principled planning to tackle critical issues was perhaps most aggravating, and the new angst over the debt ceiling is a perfect example.
“We’ve had two years to deal with the impending debt, and it’s not like it was going to go away,” he said. “It was going to have to be dealt with. We started negotiating about five days ago.”
Yoho says House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers repeatedly asked Boehner for “conferences, strategy sessions, hearings to decide what we’re going to do about this,” but he said Boehner never acted.
“There’s multiple examples like that,” he said. “We need to start solving the American citizens’ problems or the problems of our country.”
On debt, he said, a long-term solution wouldn’t be very difficult, especially after Congress kicks the can down the road to December.
“From this point forward, after we resolve it Dec. 16, it shouldn’t be an issue two years from now because we should have the funding mechanisms in place and reforms made to where we don’t have to have this discussion,” Yoho said.
The next chore for House Republicans is to choose new leadership. As expected, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Monday he would be running to replace Boehner. Many reports suggest McCarthy already has enough GOP votes locked up to win the race. Yoho isn’t ready to assume that’s the case.
“No, I think it’s open,” he said. “Kevin’s well-liked but, leadership-style, what would be the difference between him and a John Boehner?”
Reports suggest that despite McCarthy’s closeness to Boehner, conservative members are warmer to him because he is more respectful and considers the opinions of all members. Does that ring true for Yoho?
“No, I can’t say that,” Yoho said. “Again, it’s not so much listening as the strategy. It’s like, why haven’t we been strategizing on the debt ceiling from two years ago? Why are we not dealing with [Department of Homeland Security] funding that we fought at the beginning of the year? The highway transportation fund bill is coming up real soon again.”
Yoho said Republicans need to get out of the habit of dealing with issues only while the clock ticks down to zero on various deadlines and then coming up with short-term responses that just set the stage for more dysfunction weeks or months later.
“These short-term fixes waste our time because you’re always doing crisis management,” he explained. “If you sit down in committees and you work through a problem and get membership buying into it, you do that by bringing members in and saying, ‘What are your thoughts on this? How would you like to deal with this?’ If we did that, we wouldn’t have [nearly as many] problems.”
However, the leadership gets sorted out, Yoho wants the GOP members to have a robust debate and get firm plans and promises from those vying for key positions of speaker, majority leader and beyond.
“I want to make sure we sit in front of conference, air our differences, and the people that want to run for speaker get vetted, kind of like a campaign,” he said. “You ask them where they’re going to be. They have responses that are recorded so we do have accountability to people. And we want an open process, where people come and they tell us what our agenda is and what we’re trying to accomplish for the next year and project into the next Congress.”