WASHINGTON – Even though establishment Republicans won a key in-party vote on Capitol Hill today, what seems like a victory may actually cost House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, his job, according to a well-placed source on Capitol Hill.
All eyes were on the vote for majority leader, but it was the outcome of the vote for majority whip that may be pivotal, and could throw a big monkey wrench into GOP leadership plans to try to pass immigration amnesty.
Establishment Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, successfully defeated the more conservative Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, to win the House majority leader post.
However, perhaps more crucially, tea party caucus member Steve Scalise, R-La., won the race for the third-most powerful position in the House, majority whip.
It is the whip’s job to round-up votes for House leadership, in this case, Speaker Boehner, and now, Majority Leader McCarthy.
And while the leaders may push to pass immigration amnesty, it would be up to the whip to gather the votes needed to pass the legislation.
And that is something the conservative Scalise is very unlikely to push very hard, a Capitol Hill insider told WND.
If Boehner finds he is unable to push any of the legislation he desires, or to keep conservatives at bay, it could very well spell the end of his reign as speaker, according to the insider.
The source also said Scalise won easily because he already had conservatives in the Republican Study Committee, or RSC, organized to vote for him when the opportunity arose.
Another source told WND that Scalise’s first ballot victory shows his organizational strength, and that many Capitol Hill staffers were predicting a second ballot victory for him.
Many conservatives felt they did not have the time to rally behind one candidate for majority leader, because the vote was called so quickly after the surprise resignation of former Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.
Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Steve King, R-Iowa had asked for a delay of the vote held Thursday afternoon, but to no avail.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who is running to replace Scalise as chair of the RSC, spoke to WND about McCarthy’s victory, saying, “Kevin has said it will not be business as usual, so now we will see if the coming evidence supports such a verdict.”
WND has learned that Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., also has decided to run for RSC chair.
A source has described the RSC to WND as a group that contains both bona fide conservatives and Republicans who join to establish their conservative credentials, even if they aren’t really conservative.
In the end, Labrador was the only conservative to challenge McCarthy, formerly the majority whip, and a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner.
While not a member of the tea-party caucus, Labrador is a favorite among many tea-party members.
However, solid conservative Steve King was not sold on Labrador, calling him soft on immigration amnesty.
“#Labrador is pro amnesty. If not this year, he has strongly advocated for amnesty next year. No fair trying to redefine amnesty,” King tweeted last Friday.
Labrador is considered much more conservative than McCarthy, who had been left as the only other contender in the race last Thursday night, when Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, dropped out.
The vote was an obscure, but particularly important, in-party election among Republicans.
The position of majority leader suddenly became open last week when Cantor resigned the post, after his shocking primary defeat Tuesday, an enormous upset win by 12 percentage points to little-known economics professor David Brat.
“Eric is a good friend, and I have tremendous respect for him. But the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo,” Labrador said in a statement.
Many Capitol Hill insiders expect the next majority leader to become the next speaker of the House, and conservatives were desperate to get someone in GOP leadership who would fight to stop immigration amnesty, Obamacare and debt and spending increases.
In a real sense, this election could affect the entire future of the Republican Party, and the country.
And Labrador sensed that, saying, “Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that.”
“I want a House leadership team that reflects the best of our conference. A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together. A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party,” he added.
Thursday’s election left Labrador little time to round up votes.
Labrador said he hoped to form “a leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together,” and seems to believe he can build a bridge between GOP establishment leaders and rank-and-file members of Congress.
About 40 tea-party members did not want Cantor to be merely replaced by an another GOP establishment member, believing the loss was a protest vote against the party leadership.
“It would be a disaster if it’s McCarthy. Everyone knows that, and sadly, we might be dumb enough as a party to do that. And if that’s the case, there’s no chance Boehner will be re-elected as speaker. It will show we haven’t learned a single lesson from the Cantor loss,” another well-placed Capitol Hill source told WND.
But, if the source who spoke to WND is correct, and Scalise is able to hold the fort for conservatives, the election “disaster” could actually lead to just what the tea party had been hoping for, an end to amnesty and an end to the reign of speaker Boehner.