Does Eric Cantor’s no vote on the fiscal cliff bill spell trouble for John Boehner?

by James Antle, guardian.co.uk,  |  published on January 4, 2013

John Boehner, Eric Cantor

Even less common is a House speaker and majority leader going their separate ways on big-ticket legislation. The last major example is when the Democratic-controlled House debated funding President George W Bush’s surge in Iraq. House speaker Nancy Pelosi allowed the measure to proceed to the floor and voted no. House majority leader Steny Hoyer voted yes.

House speakers typically don’t even vote at all unless it is necessary to break a tie. So it may have been a clarifying moment when speaker of the House John Boehner and House majority leader Eric Cantor parted ways on the deal that ended the long national nightmare known as the fiscal cliff. Boehner voted for the bipartisan agreement negotiated between Vice-President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; Cantor breathed the final moments of life into the opposition.

In fact, the House Republican leadership team split right down the middle on the legislation. House majority whip Kevin McCarthy voted against; House Republican conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers sided with Boehner and voted in favor.

When Pelosi and Hoyer disagreed on the surge, it was the speaker who sided with the majority of her caucus.

House conservatives have increasingly chafed under Boehner’s leadership. Four independent-minded fiscal conservatives – Justin Amash of Michigan, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Walter Jones of North Carolina, and David Schweikert of Arizona – were purged from their preferred committee assignments for their unpredictable voting behavior. Secret “scorecards” were allegedly used in making the decision, though this has been denied publicly. Conservatives helped defeat Boehner’s “Plan B” compromise on the fiscal cliff before Christmas.

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