Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, announced Monday he will vote against retaining Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as House speaker in today’s election.
Stutzman is among at least nine Republicans who have said publicly they will oppose Boehner’s re-election as the top-ranking House leader for the 114th Congress. Two of them – Reps. Louis Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida – are expected to run for speaker themselves.
"I will respectfully cast my vote to support new conservative Republican leadership for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives," Stutzman wrote at the end of a lengthy statement released Monday.
His communications director, John Stapleton, said in an email that Stutzman had not decided which of Boehner’s challengers he might support. Stapleton also said that "other candidates are still possible."
Boehner has been speaker since 2011. In the new session of Congress that opens today, Republicans hold 246 seats compared with 188 for Democrats – meaning 29 Republicans would have to defect to deny Boehner a majority of votes and send the speaker election to a second ballot.
Stutzman, who begins his third full term today, voted for Boehner as speaker in the 2011 and 2013 House leadership elections, according to Stapleton.
In his written statement, Stutzman made reference to his unhappiness with GOP leadership last month when he changed his vote from "no" to "yes" so that the 2015 federal spending bill could advance to debate and a final vote. Stutzman and Stapleton said at the time that Stutzman had been misled by party leaders into believing the legislation would be pulled and replaced with a shorter-term plan to keep the government running past a funding deadline.
Stutzman ended up voting against the original legislation, nicknamed CROmnibus, which passed 219-206.
"One month after winning the 2014 midterm elections, the current House leadership forced members to vote on the ‘CROmnibus’ legislation less than three days after it was introduced, a violation of the spirit of the House of Representatives ‘three-day rule’ before voting on bills," Stutzman wrote Monday. "Legislation that contains almost 1,700 pages of legal language deserves the time and attention required to comprehend its content before bringing it to the floor for a vote. Recorded votes that break our own rules are no better than ‘passing a bill so we can find out what’s in it’. It is a dangerous practice that consistently results in laws that are detrimental for the American people. This type of disregard for regular order and other similar actions will not do anything to build the trust of the American people. We can and must do better.
"I’ve been in regular contact with leadership before and after my public statement of disappointment in the passage of the 2014 ‘CROmnibus’ bill," he wrote. "Out of respect for the process and those in positions of elected leadership in the House, I’ve worked to resolve these issues with them individually."
Stutzman has received encouragement from Republicans in Indiana’s 3rd District. In December, about 70 precinct committee officials for the Allen County Republican Party voted unanimously in favor of a written resolution declaring House GOP leaders "devoid of integrity and untrustworthy" for allegedly misleading their congressman on the spending legislation. Those same officials unanimously approved an oral resolution calling for the replacement of Boehner as speaker.
According to news reports, other Republicans who say they will vote against Boehner as speaker include Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Steve King of Iowa and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., a Boehner ally, said opposition to the speaker "will embarrass House Republicans and disrupt our team. It’d be unforgivable political behavior."