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Why Boehner's Future as House Speaker Could Depend on the Future of the Senate


John Boehner's future as speaker of the House may, oddly enough, depend on who controls the Senate. 

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio wraps up a news conference on his legislative agenda, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Hill surveyed more than two dozen House Republicans who said Boehner is enthusiastic about working with a Republican-controlled Senate to take on President Barack Obama, but might not be interested if it's only the House leading the fight again.

Moreover, the Republican caucus is less likely to support Boehner for a third term as speaker if the GOP lawmakers do not also take the Senate, The Hill reported.

Boehner was re-elected speaker in January 2013 even though a dozen Republicans did not vote for him — either voting for someone else, voting present or abstaining. So it's not a certainty he would have the necessary 218 votes needed to win again on the first round of voting.

Of those surveyed, 22 House Republicans believe that Boehner will be speaker after 2015, while just four House Republicans believe he will not.

A senior Republican House member said if Republicans control both chambers of Congress, Boehner will remain.

“If we take them both, then hey, it’s fun, and [Boehner] goes for it, but if not, he’s [gone],” the House Republican said.

But another Republican who has backed Boehner had doubts Boehner would be speaker, even if Republicans win the Senate.

“Look at the opposition that has arisen [against Boehner]... it would be very difficult, very unlikely to get 218 votes in January of 2015,” the lawmaker said.

One Republican who did go on the record was Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who said if Boehner has an ally in would-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), he will have an incentive to remain in his current job.

“That means he and McConnell will be putting things directly on the president’s desk to negotiate,” Cole said. “At that point, the president’s going to have to decide if he wants to have a constructive last two years, that may open up the opportunity for a grand bargain again.”

Boehner has expressed frustration with only controlling one House.

Because all appropriations bills must begin in the House of Representatives, the House has significant authority in budgets. However, the Democratic-controlled Senate has stood with Obama on every showdown.

During the 2011 debt limit gridlock, Boehner said, “I didn’t sign up for going mano a mano with the president of the United States.”

Among those surveyed, other names mentioned as possible Boehner speaker successors were House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.); Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.); Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).

But most think this will never come to pass, for a variety of reasons; lawmakers note that no one has even hinted at challenging Boehner, who is respected and liked by most in the House GOP conference.

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