Conservatives in the House may yet try to resurrect their motion to vacate the speaker's chair, legislators confirmed to the Washington Examiner.
With House Speaker John Boehner confirming yesterday that he will stay on until his successor can confirm 218 votes, the motion to remove him could be "brought at any time if things get too nefarious," said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.
"The motion to vacate is still in the hopper, it still has five sponsors and it can still be brought to the floor for a vote within two days," said Massie, a member of the House Liberty Caucus.
Most Republicans seemed to welcome Boehner's decision to stay on a little longer while Republicans settle on a candidate to replace him, after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the race. And given that Boehner is looking to leave, it would likely be superfluous to try to force him out as long as the election for a new speaker takes place in the near future.
But some conservative lawmakers are angry that Boehner refused to hold the vote yesterday after McCarthy's decision on Thursday. Boehner would not have done this had Reps. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., or Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, suddenly withdrawn from the race, Massie said.
"McCarthy just dropped out of the race. But rather than have the vote today, John Boehner cancelled the election, so he has time to pick another candidate," Massie wrote in a Facebook post Thursday. "This is what's wrong with Washington, D.C. Power structure laid bare."
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., the leader of the House Liberty Caucus, agreed and said this is "just one more example" of the House's "broken process."
"We had two candidates running today, and then the election was abruptly brought to an end," said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., a member of the House Freedom Caucus. "That's interesting in and of itself. The news hasn't covered that ... Why didn't the two other candidates get to have a vote today?"
Most members expressed shock on Thursday that McCarthy wasn't running, and many likely needed more time anyway to assess who they might support. But conservatives charge that Boehner seems to be waiting for a handpicked successor, and is now putting pressure on Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has said he doesn't want the job.
The House Freedom Caucus chose to lend their full support to Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., for speaker. The 40 some-odd members of the Freedom Caucus have been working together with other conservative caucuses, including the Tea Party Caucus, the Conservative Opportunity Society and the Liberty Caucus, led by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., in vetting the speaker candidates.
Both Brat and Massie, who are members of different caucuses, expressed frustration with the "false narrative" that only a handful of "hard liner" conservatives are throwing their support behind Webster.
"There are stories out there in the media about 30 or 40 of us who are challenging the Republican conference. That's a false narrative," Brat said. "Just last week, you can see the true numbers, 153 Republicans voted against the continuing resolution. That's the true number."
Just before Thursday's scheduled election, Rep. David Jolly, a moderate Republican from Florida, endorsed Webster for speaker.
In a scathing op-ed, Jolly wrote that trust in House leadership has been "eroded" by leadership's "conscious, deliberate, politically calculated" decisions. "We have essentially transcended from the 'do-nothing' Congress to the 'try-nothing' Congress," Jolly wrote. "We must demand someone who promises not merely leadership, but change — real change, a type of change rarely accomplished simply by a symbolic reshuffling of current leaders."
"I fully believe Daniel Webster could win ... no one has accused him of being an ideologue yet," said Massie, who added that Webster is "actually the only person out of the 435 members of this chamber who has ... done what needs to be done: which is, with a member of the opposite party in the executive branch, and a do-nothing Senate, get the House to lead, so that government can work. That's what he did in Florida."
Despite Webster's superior qualities and experience leading the Florida House, Boehner, armed with "the clock and the rules," appears determined to hand-pick his successor, said Massie.
"I can't tell you when Speaker Boehner is going to schedule the election. I can tell you, they control the clock, they apparently control the rules, and they will use the clock and the rules to try and get somebody who promises not to change things very much," he said.
Asked to respond to criticism that Webster had the votes to win yesterday and Boehner cancelled the election because he wants to hand-pick his successor, spokesperson Emily Schillinger said "the speaker was well within the rules to ask the conference to postpone the election."