John Boehner

Kevin McCarthy Drops His Bid for House Speaker, Throws Race into Chaos

Could John Boehner be forced to stay Speaker?



House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was widely viewed as the favorite to succeed John Boehner as the next Speaker of the House, who recently announced he'd be retiring this month.

But earlier today, with just hours to go before the initial, closed-door vote for Speaker was scheduled to take place, McCarthy unexpectedly dropped out, saying that he'll remain Majority Leader. The vote has been postponed until some yet-to-be-determined time in the future. In the meantime, the Speaker's race—and in some ways the entire House—has been thrown into chaos.

Welcome to John Boehner's nightmare.

Earlier this week, The Hill reported that Boehner had joked to Republican colleagues that he might never get to leave. "I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn't get out," the Ohio Republican reportedly said. "And a hand came reaching, pulling me."

Boehner's dream now looks more like a premonition. With McCarthy out of the race, it's unclear who could win the 218 votes necessary to take the Speaker's job. Challengers to McCarthy include Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Florida), a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representative who recently won the support of the influential House Freedom Caucus.

But at least so far, there's been little sense that either could secure the necessary votes. And if no one manages to get the support of 218 members of the House, then Boehner stays Speaker until someone does.

The Hill quotes Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) on the matter: 

"If you don't put up 218, Boehner stays Speaker," Cole explained, "because his resignation doesn't take effect until there's a new Speaker.

"They've checked with the parliamentarian about that. … We will not be without a Speaker."

This would leave Boehner will be trapped in political purgatory, the congressional equivalent of General Zod's exile to the Phantom Zone.

And we would all be trapped with him.

The unrest and uncertainty caused by McCarthy's exit is yet another sign of how fractured the House GOP continues to be, and how difficult it will be for any future Speaker to corral its various factions. McCarthy's move may even make the already fraught leadership transition process even more difficult. 

Who will want the job now? And will anyone who actually wants the job be able to wrangle enough votes? Especially with several high-stakes votes on the debt limit and another continuing resolution to fund the government coming before the end of the year.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), one of the few House GOP legislators who is liked and respected across the party, has repeatedly declined to run for the job, and he reiterated his refusal today, a sign of how difficult and thankless it's likely to be. Technically, it's true that the Speaker doesn't have to be a member of Congress. It could be anyone. Clint Eastwood. Donald Trump. You name it. But there's no precedent for a non-member Speaker. 

As Politico's Glenn Thrush noted on Twitter, Boehner's best (only?) argument for his Speakership was that nobody else would want this job. The problem is that "nobody" isn't an option for Speaker, which could mean that, at least for a little while, Boehner gets stuck with the job. 

NEXT: Asian Nail Salon Staff Demand Apology From The New York Times for Poverty-Porn Series That's Costing Them Jobs

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. WHERE’S MY H/T?

    1. Hat Tips have gone the way of the fedora.

      1. So, relegated to lame profiles on online dating sites?

        1. And hipsters

          1. And Canadians.


      2. I get a hat tip once in a while. I also own a fedora. Correlation or causation?

        1. I also own a fedora

          Nominate sarc for The Worst, Male Category.

          1. If he’s an old man, it’s fine.

            1. Hey, I resent that!

              1. You have candy – you don’t need a fedora to be cool.

                1. He can keep extra candy in the fedora

            2. A friend of mine found two in the lost and found at his work and gave me one because it was so big (my fat head and thick skull combine to give me a huge hat size). It comes in handy when it’s raining and I don’t have a hooded coat handy. No fucking way will you catch me wearing it in public.

              1. You know what They say, sarc – “Big head…..big headband.”

    2. If Boehner really cared about the GOP and the country he would have made arrangements to secure the House Speaker position prior to making his announcement of departure.

      He was just so excited about his new job as a lobbyist that that small detail completely slipped his alcohol soaked mind. What a piece-of-shit. Good riddance.

    3. The GOP is so fucked up nothing matters anymore. The party is so splintered at least as many republicans will sit at home this election as they did in 2012. Their continued Wars on Women, Gays and Drugs have insured the socialists will take control of the country in 2016 for the next 75 years. Figure Hillary will nominate 2 or 3 supreme court justices and the case for socialism will be a done deal.

      IT’S ALL OVER FOLKS! And the socialists won.

  2. The new Superman movie was on cable last night. Wasn’t half bad.

    1. No it sucked superman always sucks.

      1. I have always disliked Superman, but this movie wasn’t bad. Check it out. It’s worth is just to see Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner both die in the same movie.

        1. Costner’s death was flat out stupid. Not that I minded seeing Costner die.

        2. I watched it and thought it was good-for 15 minutes starting after I walked out the theater. Then it hit me: it was dumb and kind of boring. The flashbacks to Superman’s lonely life times fucking sucked not just for the content (did not care at all) but because it was wrecking the flow of the film. Superman was boring, as usual, and Costner’s death scene was really really stupid. Also, if Superman had a brain, he would have taken his final fight to somewhere unpopulated. There were other reasons it was bad. Zod and his right-hand women were the only good things going on, and even his motivations didn’t make sense at times. He should have been the protagonist! See my excellent synopsis below and throw money at me!

        3. I liked the Superman in DC Animated universe when Dini ran it. He had a good arc in Justice League/JLU, and they had Captain Marvel chew him out when he was being a dick.

    2. I enjoyed it as well.

    3. Zod stole the show.

      1. He’ll always be Treasury Agent Alden to me but yes, he was quite good as Zod.

      2. I want a Superman movie where Zod is a Krypton chauvanist formerly imprisoned for not abiding by Krypton’s version of PC doctrine while Superman is an out-of-control do gooder whose lack of wisdom makes his over-weening desire to ‘save’ every human from themselves dangerous. Zod doesn’t like humanity much but saves them from Superman anyway.

        Where’s my money?

        1. Get in line. I’m waiting for a studio to greenling my series which features an animated version of ‘Silemce of the Lambs’. With child versions of all the characters. I see it as the hot new Saturday morning kids show for 5-11 year olds.

          1. There was much enthusiasm for my idea of Disney making a Frozen-style film about the travails of Arya and The Hound (from GoT).

            1. Shut the fuck up, Donny

      3. The bad guys are the only reason to watch Superman. So if Zod was good, I might see it.

        However, I’d still miss Gene Hackman

    4. It was incredibly bad. I understand that Superman was good eye candy for people that like hairy men, and the Boardwalk Empire guy was better as Zod than the movie deserved. Aside from that, it was a waste of time. And it was like two and a half hours long. Awful.

      1. So you’re saying that as far as Superman movies go, it wasn’t half bad.

        1. It was less boring than Superman Returns, even though I think Brandon Routh makes a better Superman.

          Man of Steel would be an OK film to have on in the background while you devote 95% of your attention to a laptop or a book.

        2. The movies, the comics, the cartoons and pretty much all things superman always bored the hell out of me. The only thing I liked about superman was David Carrradine’s monologue about him in Kill Bill.

  3. Amash for speaker! Or something important.

    1. Prime Minister of Canuckistan

      1. He said important!

  4. Good. McCarthy was pretty much a paler Boehner.

    And then Boehner will be trapped in political purgatory,

    So, no real change. As it is, I’d rather have a crippled Boehner and chaos in the House, than a functional Boehner shepherding through horrible bill after horrible bill.

    1. Good. McCarthy was pretty much a paler Boehner.

      More like a Boehner who hasn’t consumed too much beta-carotene, amirite?

    2. functional Boehner


      1. Are we still doing ‘phrasing’?

        1. We’ll never give up our inappropriate phrasing.

          1. If you like your functional Boehner, you can keep your functional Boehner.

            1. What do I do after 4 hours of a functional Boehner?

              1. See a doctor. He can alleviate the swelling.

    3. What the fuck are you doing, talking about the article? This forum is for discussion of Superman and Cytotoxic’s hat tip!

  5. Death throes.

    1. Of the Party or the Republic?

  6. Welcome to John Boehner’s nightmare.

    Wouldn’t a national ban on tanning salons be closer to an actual nightmare for Boehner?

  7. The prisons in 1980 were so primitive? Only two dimensions?

    1. Budget cuts. Those dimensions don’t come cheap.

    2. Barry gave us all the dimensions beyond two. Everyone knows that.

  8. You answered the question: Speaker Zod.
    All knell to Speaker Zod!

    1. How does one knell, exactly? If I strike myself with a hammer I don’t ring…

      1. Are you sure?
        Give it a try.

        1. If you hit your ear with the hammer, you’ll definitely hear ringing.

      2. Perhaps Dudley Dooright knows?

  9. Not supposed to shit where you eat Congress.

    1. I will eat Congress wherever I please, thank you!

    2. I took a shit where Congress eats, once.

      /channeling Sandi

  10. Didn’t Daniel Webster die like 150 years ago?? WTF???

    1. I don’t know if there is a requirement that the Speaker actually be alive.

    2. He looked amazingly like Edward Arnold.

  11. Hillary for speaker of the house. She’d make a good republican.

    1. If she switched, she’d lover the average IQ of both parties.

      1. lower, not lover

        1. Freudian slip?

          1. *shudder*

          2. When you read SugarFree’s stories, you come away… changed.

  12. Never mind Superman II jokes, now that Kevin McCarthy has dropped out, what will happen to my Invasion of the Body-Snatchers jokes?

    Oh, my poor body-snatcher jokes, now they’re lost forever!

  13. Sounds like somebody must have dropped off a manila envelope containing incriminating photos off at McCarthy’s office.

    1. Pretty much my first thought.

      I guess we’ll never know what the dirt was now 🙁

      1. Wait a decade or so for the memoirs to come out.

      2. He was /is having an affair with a female Congresswoman.

        It was an open secret in DC but obviously not publicly known.

  14. Paul Ryan is happy as chair of Ways and Means. Nearly as much power with none of the publicity.

  15. Trump for Speaker! Make the House great again!

  16. So, as I asked in the Tweeterz, does anyone REALLY care who is the next Speaker? Like it’s going to make a fucking dime’s worth of difference?


    1. You should just be Rusty Woodchipper, Boy Adventurer.

      1. “A new children’s story by Rush Limbaugh”

        /lights the shriek signal

    2. Anyone who would do what we might consider to be a good job would never consider taking the job.

      1. Not true. I’d take it and be awesome at it. You guys would run out of money from sending me so much chocolate and flowers, or you’d be ungrateful pricks.

        1. *hands Cytofascist a ticket for the first train back to Canadia*

          1. This Cytofascist jerk can take all the trains in the world; Cytotoxic OTOH deserves POWER!

        2. I know that the Speaker of the House doesn’t technically have to be a Congressperson, but i’m pretty sure it can’t be a 12-year-old Canuck.

          1. As long as it can be a Canadian, I’m good.

          2. Only Captain Canuck is eligible.

    3. I do and we should. A half-decent speaker could wring some concessions out of this president, like getting pipelines built.

      1. No, real people. i.e. “Not Canadian”

        1. I can’t hear you over the sound of our balanced federal budget. It’s so beautiful. You wouldn’t know what that’s like. Haven’t had that since the ’70s or so I hear.

          1. I’m glad you balanced the budget for your people. You must be so proud of your accomplishment.

            Let me know how you do when you get your own checking chequing account.

          2. I can’t hear you over the sound of your flapping head. Also, the beady little eyes are off-putting.

  17. My email has been awash with Trey Gowdy for Speaker messages for a few weeks now.

    1. Speaking of political emails – every single one I get (and snail mail from political groups, too) are all so fucking dire. All of Rand Paul’s emails have the subject line “Bad news”, for example.

      I can’t help but think they’d be more successful if they snuck a little “light at the end of the tunnel” optimism in there.

      Or is that just me?

      1. Bad News – it’s just you

      2. These mooks need some advice from the PUA community if they want to appeal to the female vote.

      3. Optimism doesn’t produce frantic political donations quite like crushing fear.

  18. So, was it a dead girl or a live boy that was found in the trunk?

    1. A walking-dead, trans Xi.

      The crippler….

  19. OT. I walked past somebody a few minutes ago that just has to be a commentor here. So, which of you is sitting in front of a comic book store, under a Gadsden Flag, playing chess, wearing a white suit with all of your head shaved except for two patches on top that you’ve styled into devil horns?

    1. That would be me. You should have stopped in and said hello.

    2. You’re gonna have to be more specific if you want to narrow it down to one person.

      1. I know, right?

    3. White suit?

      That’s gotta be Gilmore.

      1. After Labor Day? Not a chance.

  20. They make a pill for a non-functioning Boehner.

    1. Too bad he didn’t take it

  21. Don’t they make you pick whether you want to be on the leadership track in the House as a freshman? Otherwise, you get on a waiting list for a committee.

    What’s the point of being on the leadership track in the House if you don’t want to be Speaker?

    What, does he have a mountain of skeletons in his closet?

  22. Rumors spreading that he was banging Renee Ellmers from NC.

    1. Hmmm…..potentially would, in a pinch. And with enough alcohol and coke.

        1. Very kind of you to share that!

    2. Pix or it . . . never mind.

  23. If they can’t find an establishment Speaker that the Tea Party people will vote for, that’s probably a good thing.

    If they can’t find a Tea Party Speaker that enough establishment representatives will vote for? Then you’d think the establishment guys would eventually cave. Since the Bush the Lesser Administration, caving on the issues is what being the Republican establishment has always been about–except for one thing…


    The establishment Republicans have always caved to allow more spending. But if the Tea Party people think the establishment is going to just stand there and do nothing while the Tea Party stops spending–then they may have found a principle that the establishment will finally stand firm.

    1. “Fuck you, keep spending?”

      1. It’s the only principle upon which establishment Republicans are principled and consistent.

        “Fuck you, keep spending!”

        1. Nuh uh! The Republicans are all about cutting spending! Just not on that! Or that! Or that! Nope, not that either! Cut spending! No, that’s important! Got to keep that! Cut spending!

    2. They should give the job back to Pelosi. Everyone liked making her life miserable

      1. The problem with that is she was too dumb to realize she was supposed to be miserable, so she just kept doing what she do.

    3. If they can’t find a Speaker; then someone should seriously submit a motion to ask Congress to adjourn until after the next election. And if that group can’t find a Speaker; then they can adjourn for two years as well.

  24. I can’t help but think they’d be more successful if they snuck a little “light at the end of the tunnel” optimism in there.

    It worked for that Reagan guy.

    1. The light was a train.

  25. My choices for speaker of the house, in order of preference:

    1) Ron Paul
    2) Andrew Napolitano
    3) Justin Amash
    4) Clint Eastwood


  26. “And we would all be trapped with him.”

    I swear, these fuckers must zip up their own dicks up on a daily basis. Is there anything that the party of stupid can’t fuck up?

    I complained about the stupidity of politicians when I was a kid. I asked my father why we couldn’t get good ones. He asked me “Who? Nobody smart or worth a damn wants that job.”

    1. “Nobody smart or worth a damn wants that job.”

      Except me.

      Your dad was wrong: the problem is that Americans keep voting for bad pols.

    2. I’m sure he was quite right about a great many politicians, but sometimes you see successful businessmen, physicians, generals, and (no offense) engineers getting elected, and not doing particularly well.

      People who’ve “met a payroll” did so in the context of a somewhat competitive marketplace, so that doesn’t necessarily prepare them for the monopolistic context of politics – it removes the checks which competition used to impose on their behavior, encouraging megalomania. Engineers are used to solving complex problems, so they figure that political problems are technical matters which can be tackled with the requisite skill on the part of the Right People in office (see Hoover, Herbert).

      In short, the intelligent ones may actually be worse than the dumb ones, because the intelligent ones are less likely to perceive limitations on their power to shape and mold the world to their liking. See the Simpson’s episode when the corrupt mayor Quimby is replaced by a committee of local intellectuals, who proceed to run the town into the ground in ways Quimby never thought of.

      See also the C. S. Lewis quote on people who rule you for your own good.

      1. I have made an observation about management that I think applies to political offices just as well.

        A business needs managers. It needs people who can effectively coordinate other people, understand the big picture and how the pieces fit together, and keep efforts focused towards the objectives. This is, somewhat needless to say, a very difficult job. It is perhaps the most important job of all. If taken seriously, it entails a lot of stress and a lot of responsibility. For a talented engineer or similar individual, the pay differential between plying their trade and working as a manager is often not enough to justify the added hassle. The demand for management in practice far outstrips the supply of competent managers. As a consequence, most management positions get staffed by incompetent individuals. Whether they be narcissists, beneficiaries of nepotism/other favoritism, or simply fish out of water, the average manager is fucking up some part of his job on a regular basis.


      2. (cont’d)

        Many small businesses and other efforts fail in no small part due to lack of effective management. In larger companies and other stagnant bureaucracies, the diffusion of responsibility makes it very difficult to identify the exact source of a fuck-up and fully appreciate the consequences of it. Repeat this process many times and the result is the metastasis of toxic management. The company continues to run on institutional momentum but it is utterly unable to adapt effectively to changing conditions. Consumer demands and operational needs become abstract concepts. The prime driver of change tends to be “crises”–sudden jolts to the status quo that, while often quite foreseeable and preventable, nobody was bothering to foresee or prevent. And so the organization becomes ever more dysfunctional as it responds in haphazard ways to events without addressing underlying incentives. As the whole thing starts to fall apart, investors start to demand changes of an increasingly radical nature.

        (cont’d — wtf reason)

        1. (cont’d)

          In this environment, very few people can possibly address all of the factors at play. Anyone coming in at such a late stage will have a very hard time shouldering the weight of deeply embedded institutional problems. Someone whose experience is primarily in completing discrete tasks with well defined outcomes is generally going to flounder. But someone whose experience is primarily in self-aggrandizement and appeasement will be able to shrug off the difficulties and make it look as though they are turning things around, or failing that make it look as though they made a valiant effort to try. In practice, I think, a lot of people have a little of column A and a little of column B. The right balance at the right time goes along way to looking successful.

  27. “Nobody smart or worth a damn wants that job.”

    Except me.

    No, the assertion stands.

    1. I think we should fill these positions with a draft.

      Smart, principled and capable? Don’t want the job? Fuck you conscript, they wrote you in. You are it for for one term. Oh, and those who think they want the job – disqualified. The only way you can have the office is if you don’t want it.

      Also, I see some musing over why McDunce is out. His astronomical fuck up by alluding to the Benghazi hearings being political, possibly throwing the race to a democratic hack/ mediocre grifter who should be in prison, was just….I don’t have the words. Maybe it’s that even the rest of the stupid party can’t believe anyone would be dumb enough to do that on accident.

      1. Suthenboy, you said a mouthful. And not just about the Speaker’s position.

        I contend that anyone who wants to run for office -any office – oughta be checked for signs of paranoia and/or sociopathy. It might not keep all the noddies and trolls out of office, but it could save the rest of us a good deal of pain.

        1. So … you’re in favor of some common-sense restrictions on who can be a politician …?

    2. Says the guy who can’t even thread. And no, I am not the guy who drank goat-blood.

      Cytotoxic 2016: you know you can’t resist me!

      1. Well shit, if you didn’t drink goat blood I am not going to vote for you.

      2. Goat blood is the libertarian litmus test. It is to libertarians what pro-choice is to Democrats and, um, being a giant asshole is to Republicans.

      3. Cytotoxic 2016: Objectivist children from Canada are real people too, almost!

  28. It’s so cute when the Northerners fantasize about coming to the US to take a pol’s job. How shallow and empty must life be when your dream is to be a pol? In another country?

    *wipes away tear*

    1. Winter is coming. I can’t say I really blame Canadians for wanting to get out of Canadia.

      1. I envision all those flapping headed, beady eyed little syrup suckers fleeing in a panic to escape the advance of the Winter Wights and their zombie armies.

        1. I thought the Canadians were the White Walkers. Now you’re telling me they’re the inbred sheep herders that live beyond the wall? That explains a lot, actually.

          1. Cytotoxic’s favorite Game of Thrones character would definitely be Craster (if his mom would ever let him watch it).

            1. Game of Thrones…that’s musical chairs for rich people, right?

  29. Choose Trump. If he does a good job he can be President. If he sucks, he’s (even more) exposed.

  30. The unrest and uncertainty caused by McCarthy’s exit is yet another sign of how fractured the House GOP continues to be, and how difficult it will be for any future Speaker to corral its various factions.

    I know, if only the GOP were more monolithic and hive-mind like the Dems, then everything would be fixed.

  31. Ah – centralized gubmit chaos !!

  32. Personally, I’d like to see Justin Amash as Speaker of the House…

    1. Drudge has it’s lead article with a Gingrich interview that suggests talks are underway to bring him back as speaker again. Seriously.

  33. This would make for an interesting poll, who might the ‘people’ like to see become the next House speaker representing the Republicans? It should be obvious the ‘people’ want to see some change in our government, and the Republican wing of the Liberal establishment seems quite unwilling to allow that to happen. When the voters send new faces to Washington to represent them, they are sending with them knowledge of some of the changes they want to see happen more quickly. Seniority should have little to do with job assignments as it is the newly elected representatives who are most likely to push for changes which have the consent of the governed.
    We need to return to a multi-party system, if only a 2 party system of government where it is with the consent of the people the governing rules by which we all live are sourced.

  34. Just when I think we’ve reached the pinnacle of dysfunctional politics…recurring nightmares make it very real.

  35. Well whatdayaknow, Boner, everybody hates everybody else more than they hate you. That’s something, I guess, right?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.