Posted: 7:53 am Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
Now that Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) has filed a resolution which could ultimately lead to the ouster of Speaker John Boehner, it’s not clear just how swiftly the issue will be dealt with – or whether there will ever be a vote on it in the U.S. House.
A number of different scenarios are possible for the Meadows resolution:
1. Meadows could go right to the House floor
Since the “motion to vacate the chair” is highly privileged, Meadows could seek recognition on the House floor immediately and force the issue.
The last time the House voted on such a motion was in 1910, when Republicans were trying to overthrow Speaker Joe Cannon. The move was not successful, though the House did cut back on some of the Speaker’s powers.
2. GOP leaders could force a vote
Meadows said Tuesday night that he would not be surprised if allies of Speaker Boehner force action on this motion today, before the House adjourns for a summer break that will extend until after Labor Day.
The GOP leadership could bring up the Meadows resolution to vacate the chair and move immediately to “table” it, effectively killing the plan. Meadows would need the support of many Democrats to stop that maneuver. This would be the fastest way for GOP leaders to dispose of the threat.
3. Send the issue to the Rules Committee
If Meadows does not force the matter today, the resolution would be routinely referred to the House Rules Committee. That is somewhat ironic, given that the Rules Committee Republicans are hand-picked by Speaker Boehner, and would be unlikely to do anything with the resolution.
4. Discharge petition
If the resolution goes to the Rules Committee and is not acted upon, Meadows could use a tactic known as a discharge petition to force action. But, the rules governing that provide for a lengthy delay. Discharge petitions cannot be filed until a measure has sat in a committee for more than 30 “legislative” days – and since the House has few days in session scheduled in coming weeks, that requirement would not be fulfilled until early November.
He would also likely need Democrats to sign that discharge petition, since Boehner allies are unlikely to join in that effort.
5. Waiting until after the 2016 election
If this matter ever comes to a vote on the House floor, opponents of Speaker Boehner would need a lot of Democratic votes to help push Boehner out, which makes it very difficult to replace a Speaker during a Congressional session.
Some Republicans say it would be better to wait until after the next election – see whether Boehner even runs for office again – and then find a consensus candidate to run for Speaker.