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Boehner to Leave House in Disorder

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 6/10/2015 GVH Live
SEQUESTRATION CUTS 2013 © Shutterstock SEQUESTRATION CUTS 2013

By, Jordan Stephen
For all of his talk about mending internal wounds, the Speaker of the House is likely to leave his colleagues on the verge of bloodshed.

As John Boehner prepares to end his nearly 25 year-long career on Capitol Hill, a fractured Republican Party is gearing up for a contentious transition of leadership. Growing tensions between the GOP's moderate and right-wing factions will surround Boehner's succession and define the party going into 2016 and beyond.

Perhaps the most tangible effect of the Speaker's decision to resign was the passage of a stopgap spending bill on Wednesday that will keep the federal government open until Dec. 11. Prior to this piece of legislation, Boehner was under pressure from conservative House members in the Freedom Caucus to only call a vote on spending bills that would strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding.

While the far-right lost this most recent fight, it remains unclear on whether they will lose the war.

A government shutdown may materialize as soon as the current bill expires in December and the imminent regime change could give conservative hardliners the capacity they need to get their way.

Whoever inherits Boehner's gavel will largely determine how much power the Tea Party will have in the new House.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been thrust into the spotlight as the most likely moderate Republican to take over for the departing speaker.

McCarthy, who represents California's 23rd district, is known on the hill for his amiable demeanor and casual approach to leadership. If elected, the center-right representative may have trouble appeasing conservatives, much like the way Boehner did.

Many conservatives, however, are unlikely to cast their vote for a candidate they see as a carbon copy of the outgoing speaker.

There is even a movement outside the chamber to "Fire Kevin McCarthy" before the elections.

Daniel Webster, R-Florida, is the most likely contender to throw his hat into the ring for the far-right. The former speaker of the Florida State House actively garnered support for Boehner's ousting and has a proven track record of upholding conservative values.

Webster faces an uphill battle because of his relative obscurity.

But right-wing caucuses, such as the Freedom Caucus and the Tea Party Caucus, still hold clout over internal party machinations.

McCarthy and Webster are set to appear at a "Conservative Group Forum" on Tuesday that will vet their commitment to conservatism. The event is being organized by four far-right caucuses.

While the party's vote for its speaker is set for Oct. 8, a House-wide vote for speaker will occur sometime towards the end of the month. If McCarthy cannot muster conservative support by that time, the lower chamber will be headed towards a turbulent election.

Regardless, establishment party members are bracing for the worst.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a bastion of Republican centrism, told Newsday , a Long Island publication, Boehner's resignation was "a victory for the crazies... You can't appease these people."

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., called for reconciliation.

"Let's stop fighting with each other and let's sit down together and work out our differences with a common agenda to elect the next president of the United States," he told reporters The political fissures within the party have certainly spilled over into the presidential race.

The three Republican primary front-runners, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, all tout themselves as Washington outsiders whose opposition to the establishment qualify them to lead the country.

Meanwhile, one-time favorite Jeb Bush has fallen considerably in the polls while struggling to combat his image as a political traditionalist.

How the Republican House members and the greater GOP manages the conservative insurgents within its ranks will not just determine its future in presidential terms, but also whether or not it can hold on to its legislative majority. Both will be at stake in 2016.
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