Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Raúl Labrador: "My vote for Mr. Boehner is not an endorsement of his past leadership."

Posted By on Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 5:26 PM

From the very start, U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho),  has had a tense relationship with John Boehner. He came to Washington saying, essentially, that he wasn't there to make friends. He accused Boehner of "abandoning conservatives with debt-ceiling" plans. And two years ago, when Boehner was up for reelection as Speaker of the House, Labrador stood there, silent as his name was called, refusing to vote for Boehner or anyone else.
Still not totally sold on Boehner
  • Still not totally sold on Boehner

“I decided to speak with my silence,” Labrador told the Inlander then. “There was nobody at that moment I thought would be a good speaker.” (Libertarian Republican Justin Amash voted for Labrador as speaker.)

He had tried, futilely, to organize opposition to Boehner's leadership. 

He's said he believes Boehner is a good man, but sometimes too naive, too unwilling to take a strong stand. He's bristled at Boehner's negotiating tactics. Yet during the government shutdown at the end of 2013, Labrador praised Boehner's initial resolve and unwillingness to back down. "I think he's done a very good job with this," Labrador told the Inlander.

Labrador's remained ambitious and willing to challenge party leadership. He had a brief, relatively futile campaign for House Majority Leader last year.  

But this year, there were even more even opposing Boehner's re-election. Twenty-five representatives chose to vote instead for representatives like Rand Paul, Jeff Sessions, Louie Gohmert and Daniel Webster (not the one you're thinking of).

But Labrador wasn't among them. He voted for Boehner. 

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Labrador explains how he was convinced: 
Before I cast my vote for Mr. Boehner, I spoke with him multiple times. He assured me that he wants to change the way the House is run. He cited my successful efforts last August in bringing conservatives together to pass two bills that would have secured the border and prevented Obama’s illegal executive actions. He asked for my help moving the House in a more conservative direction and promised that this would be a model for how he’ll conduct himself as Speaker in the 114th Congress.
But lest Boehner think Labrador is sending mixed signals, his statement makes his feelings clear,  explaining that his "vote for Mr. Boehner is not an endorsement of his past leadership" and that "every time over the past four years that the Speaker ignored the views of the Republican majority and the voice of the American people, I opposed him."

Where Labrador has shown willingness to take up unlikely battles before (as with his doomed House Majority Leader bid) he says this time pragmatism was part of his calculus.

"The votes were simply not there to defeat the Speaker," he writes. "I think it is unwise to marginalize yourself when there is no chance of victory, which was the case today."

He recognizes that some constituents might be angry, but for those challenging his vote, he stares them straight in the eye, and says, have you met me?

"I understand that many of my most loyal supporters are angry with my vote," Labrador says. "I ask them to remember that for the last four years I have stood tall for the conservative cause."

(It's worth mentioning that those voting against the speaker risked losing committee assignments. But that was the case in 2013 as well.) 

Here, from his Facebook page, is Labrador's statement: 

Today, I made a difficult decision in voting for John Boehner for Speaker of the House. Many constituents from Idaho contacted me to let me know that I should not support him. I want them to know that I did not make this decision lightly. I share the view of the majority of my constituents who are deeply frustrated by the way the House has run the last four years.

I understand that many of my most loyal supporters are angry with my vote. I ask them to remember that for the last four years I have stood tall for the conservative cause. In December, I opposed the end of year spending bill by opposing both the rule and final passage. Last year I ran for Majority Leader of the House when no one else was willing to stand up against the establishment in Washington. And every time over the past four years that the Speaker ignored the views of the Republican majority and the voice of the American people, I opposed him.

In 2013, I led the effort to oust Speaker Boehner from his leadership post. At that time, we had sufficient votes to be successful, but at the last minute several members changed their votes to support Boehner.

This year was different – even after 25 Republicans opposed the Speaker, we still needed 12 more votes. The votes were simply not there to defeat the Speaker. I think it is unwise to marginalize yourself when there is no chance of victory, which was the case today.

Before I cast my vote for Mr. Boehner, I spoke with him multiple times. He assured me that he wants to change the way the House is run. He cited my successful efforts last August in bringing conservatives together to pass two bills that would have secured the border and prevented Obama’s illegal executive actions. He asked for my help moving the House in a more conservative direction and promised that this would be a model for how he’ll conduct himself as Speaker in the 114th Congress.
My vote for Mr. Boehner is not an endorsement of his past leadership. Just as I have done during my first two terms in office, I will continue to fight for the American people and hold our leadership accountable.

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