Operation: Speaker

The YOLO Caucus' New Cry for Attention

Their first attempt to unseat the House speaker failed miserably, so why not try again? Why Louie Gohmert and Ted Yoho are still doomed.

The gang that couldn’t shoot straight is back at it.

Two years after failing to unseat Speaker John Boehner in a slapstick coup attempt that featured an accidental public exposure of the full list of conspirators on a iPad, a group of conservatives is mounting yet another attempt to unseat the speaker of the House.

But this year, instead of simply voting against Boehner on Tuesday, at least two members of the group are vying to replace him.

On Sunday, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas became the second Republican to declare he would challenge Boehner for the speaker’s gavel.

Gohmert, a bombastic right-winger prone to making controversial comments, joins Ted Yoho, a former large-animal veterinarian from Florida, as a potential conservative alternative to Boehner.

Now, neither Gohmert nor Yoho will be the next speaker. Both are considered marginal figures in the House GOP caucus and have no real base of support for their respective bids.

Instead, the goal is to rally enough other Republicans to oppose Boehner to force a second ballot and create an impasse that can only be ended with a new speaker.

House rules require a candidate for speaker to receive an absolute majority of votes to be elected and for balloting to continue until that can be achieved. While there is plenty of historical precedent for multiple ballots, including one election that required 133 ballots over a two-month period, no vote for speaker has gone to a second ballot since 1923.

Another problem for the plotters? Math.

At least 29 fellow Republicans must vote against Boehner for a second ballot to be reached, and that seems very unlikely. Nine Republicans voted against Boehner in 2013. The ranks of the 2015 rebels appear to be even smaller.

So far, just four members, including Gohmert and Yoho, have announced they will oppose Boehner on Tuesday. All four voted against him in 2013. While their numbers seem likely to grow—Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, who also voted against Boehner in 2013, has all but stated openly that he will join the defectors again, and Gary Palmer, a newly elected congressman from Alabama, has pledged to vote against Boehner, they are not likely to be anywhere near enough to make the vote suspenseful.

Boehner doesn’t seem worried.

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In a statement to The Daily Beast, Michael Steel, a spokesman for the speaker, said, “Rep. Boehner was selected as the House Republican Conference’s choice for speaker in November, and he expects to be elected by the whole House this week.”

Boehner was unanimously selected by the conference as its official nominee for speaker in the coming Congress.

In the meantime, Gohmert can take some consolation if his long-shot bid for speaker doesn’t pan out Tuesday. By tradition, the speaker of the House never participates in debates in the House and remains silent. Considering Gohmert spoke for 29 hours on the House floor on the Congress in 2014, 19 hours more than any other member, wielding the speaker’s gavel would likely cramp his style.