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Congressman Justin Amash rejects Boehner for speaker | People

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Congressman Justin Amash rejects Boehner for speaker
People, Politics
Congressman Justin Amash rejects Boehner for speaker

WASHINGTON (Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press) – U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of west Michigan — once again — joined the move to dump House Speaker John Boehner as his party's leader in the chamber.

It didn't work: Boehner, R-Ohio, was elected to his third two-year term as House speaker but it didn't come without a a spirited challenge by his critics, including Amash, who joined 27 members who rejected either Boehner or Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi as speaker.

Boehner was elected with 216 of 408 votes cast in the 435-member chamber. Pelosi, the former speaker, received 164 Democratic votes. The rest of the votes were split among more than a dozen other names.

Amash was the only one of nine Republican members of Michigan's 14-member delegation to the House to vote against Boehner, a position he announced Tuesday morning on social media.

"The speaker of the House has one of the most challenging jobs in government. Speaker Boehner has given his best to our conference, and I thank him for his service. But it's time for Republicans to change our leadership. This afternoon, I will vote for a new speaker," he wrote on Facebook at 8 a.m.

It is not the first time Amash has voted to dump Boehner. Two years ago, as the libertarian firebrand Amash was being pushed off the House Budget Committee after crossing Republican leaders, he voted for Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, as speaker on the first day of the 113th Congress. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., voted for Amash for speaker in that roll call as well.

Boehner won reelection to the speakership in 2013 despite more than a dozen defections and had been expected to win again today as the 114th Congress took office with Republicans firmly in control of the House. But Amash's position had been uncertain until this morning, when the Cascade Township Republican said he could not support Boehner.

He did so citing promises made over the years that the legislative process would be opened up to more amendments and debate and that members would given more time to consider and read legislation.

"Yet time and again, it seems that Congress governs by crisis and raw partisanship," Amash wrote. "To appeal to more Americans and better reflect today's Republicans, we need modern leaders who respect the diversity of ideas within the House of Representatives."

Amash did not say who he would back but when the time came, he cast his vote for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Ted Yoho, R-Fla., and Daniel Webster, R-Fla., were the other Republicans officially running against Boehner, though members could vote for others as well.

With the number of members voting, Boehner needed 205 to win without the vote going to a second ballot. Webster came in second among the Republican nominees with 12 votes.

Boehner was sworn in by a Democrat — U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Detroit — who with Rep. John Dingell's retirement, which is official today, became the longest-serving active member of the U.S. House. Referred to as the "dean" of the House, the longest-serving active member typically swears in the speaker.

Dingell, of Dearborn, had been the dean since 1995, after the retirement of Mississippi's Jamie Whitten. Dingell went onto become Congress' longest-serving member ever.

Coincidentally, Conyers — one of the House's most liberal members and a former staff member for Dingell — and Amash have joined forces in the past to try to rein in government intelligence collection efforts. Conyers, the first African-American dean, joined Congress in 1965.

Contact TODD SPANGLER at 703-854-8947 or at tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on twitter at @tsspangler.

People, Politics