Op-ed by Congressman Gregg Harper:
John Boehner was the Conservative choice for Speaker
By: Gregg Harper
Last Tuesday, I was one of 216 of 246 House Republicans that elected John Boehner to serve as Speaker for the 114th Congress. Those 216 included some of the most conservative members we have in the Republican conference. A number of television and radio hosts, as well as outside groups, whose primary purpose is to raise money to work, not against Democrats, but against Republicans, urged us to vote for a member who ultimately only got three votes (one of which was his own). Twenty-five voted against Boehner, even though the entire Republican Conference had selected him as our leader in November at our Organizing Conference. That would have been the time to vote against the Speaker and there would have been secret ballots, but not one person ran against him. Who was it that gave the nominating speech for Speaker Boehner at that event in November? It was Trey Gowdy from South Carolina, who is a strong voice for America and conservative principles.
If Boehner is not conservative, then why was he endorsed in his 2014 election by groups such as the National Rifle Association, where he carries an A+ Lifetime Rating? John Boehner said: “The 2nd Amendment isn’t just about our freedom; it’s about our way of life.” He was also endorsed by the National Right to Life, and said: “Our founding principles of life and liberty will always be linked. I am proud to fight for the defenseless….”
I wish everyone had the opportunity to talk to Speaker Boehner. (Take 10 minutes and watch “John Boehner: the Biggest Long Shot” on YouTube.) He’s a family man, he’s loyal to a fault, and he truly wants to guide us through what has been a very difficult time these past six years dealing with President Obama. During my first two years, we were in the minority with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, then these past four years with Harry Reid running the Senate. We passed over 380 conservative bills during the last term that never saw the light of day in the Democratic controlled Senate, but now we have control of the House and the Senate, and this should be a time for optimism.
Some have said there should be no “retribution” for any of the 25 who voted against Boehner. A basic Republican belief is that actions have consequences. Specifically, the Ethics Committee (on which I served my first two terms) and the Committee on House Administration (on which I’m beginning my fourth term) and the Rules Committee are all appointed by the Speaker. All other committee assignments are made by the Steering Committee. Two of the members who voted against Boehner have served on the Rules Committee, which is essential for the majority to control legislation on the floor. I like both gentlemen, but they should not be allowed to serve on the Rules Committee. This is not punishment but it’s about assuring Republican control over the legislation that goes to the floor.
So where do we go now? We must realize that we are stronger if all 246 members work together. John Boehner has led us through these last, very difficult, four years to arrive at the largest Republican majority in almost a century. Let’s stay focused. Let’s work together and put bills on the President’s desk that he either has to sign or veto. Then let’s elect a Republican President in 2016.
Gregg Harper is a Republican Congressman for the 3rd congressional district of Mississippi.