Congressman Steve King publicly expressed a lack of confidence in soon-to-depart House Speaker John Boehner 15 months ago during an appearance on Iowa Public Television and a member of King’s staff says King played a crucial role in the internal GOP revolt that weakened Boehner and led to his exit.
“There comes a time for fresh blood,” King said on IPTV in June of 2014, “and I know that dialogue is out there and there’s an open discussion about who that might be.”
In January, seven months after making that statement, King nominated a Florida congressman named Daniel Webster to be House Speaker. Webster got more votes for speaker than any other candidate challenging Boehner. A spokesperson for King today said King’s move had weakened Boehner’s leadership position and added: “That’s what ultimately did Boehner in.” King has indicated he is not interested in being speaker himself.
“It’s not my style,” King said last year.
Leaders have to build coalitions, according to King, to the point where they’re pushing a consensus position rather than sticking to their personal beliefs.
“I learned in the Iowa Senate that wasn’t my role,” King said on IPTV. “My role was to be the conscience of the conservatives — the constitutional, principled conservatives. That’s my role today in congress, too.”
King and Boehner have had very public squabbles during the five years Boehner has been House Speaker. Boehner publicly rebuked King for comments King made two years ago about young undocumented immigrants. Five years ago Boehner did not promote King on a committee that King had been in position to lead and, earlier this year, Boehner cancelled a foreign trip King was set to take. Fifteen months ago, King was directly asked if he would vote to keep Boehner on as speaker.
“If you look at the pattern of his behavior, you could understand why that would be a difficult decision for me,” King said.
First-term Republican Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque did not vote for Boehner in January either. Boehner announced this morning during a private meeting of House Republicans that he would resign at the end of October. King and other conservative Republicans in the House have been pushing for a showdown with President Obama over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Boehner has been trying to navigate the conflict and avoid a government shutdown.
King told The Omaha World Herald today that Boehner “handled himself with grace and class” in announcing his exit from congress and King said it was time to “reassess” who would be best to lead House Republicans as speaker. Congressman David Young, a Republican from Van Meter, told The Omaha World Herald Boehner’s move to step down was “a great act of courage and humility.”
Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa City, the only Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation, issued a written statement commending Boehner for his service.
“While I have not always agreed with him, I understand that the challenges of leading a fractured and ideological party must have been extremely difficult,” Loebsack said. “…It is my hope that the Republican Party will elect a Speaker who is able to stop the partisan games that have ruled Washington for far too long and start working for the American people.”