The Empire Strikes Back: Establishment GOP Rewriting Rules To Protect Ryan

New rule could stop Freedom Caucus from calling a vote on ousting liberal Speaker

After watching a compromise-happy Majority Leader Eric Cantor lose his GOP primary, and a compromise-happy John Boehner lose his post, Establishment Republicans aren’t taking any more chances.

They’re about to rewrite House rules to stop members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus from ever holding Republican leaders accountable for cutting bad deals with Democrats.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Citing the “turmoil” caused by unexpected leadership changes, [Devin] Nunes said his proposal would change the rules so that a majority vote by the ruling party would be required before a member can introduce a special resolution that would trigger a vote to vacate the speaker’s chair.


The proposal by Nunes comes almost a year after the departure of former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who retired from the top leadership post in part because an opposing conservative lawmaker, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, had threatened to trigger a vote to oust him using a privileged resolution to “vacate the chair.”


The Nunes proposal would require such a resolution to first win a majority vote of the Republican conference or Democratic caucus, depending on which party controls the chamber.


The change is meant to neutralize a group of House conservatives, many of them members of the House Freedom Caucus, who frequently buck the GOP leadership by voting against key Republican legislation.

The move means conservatives in the House could no longer hold Speaker Paul Ryan accountable by threatening to hold a vote — with the prospect of Democrats joining with Tea Party members to oust a rogue Speaker.

Because the Speaker must win a majority to claim the post, no Democrat would win the vacant position, but Tea Party members in the House were able to use the threat of replacing a Speaker with another Republican to force Boehner to step down.

Rep. Devin Nunes’ rule would eliminate that — making the Speaker immune to pressure from conservatives that eventually brought down Boehner.

It would also eliminate a rule originally written by Thomas Jefferson, and which has been followed for nearly 200 years.

Freedom Caucus members oppose the move.

“A House rule to change Jeffersonian rules that have served our institution well since its founding would be ill-advised,” Meadows tells the Examiner.

The measure is expected to come up for a vote early next year when the new Congress adopts its rules for the 2017-2018 session.

Nunes has attacked House conservatives who opposed a spending deal with Obama, calling them “lemmings.”

Nunes has also compared House conservatives to terrorists, accusing them of wearing “suicide vests.”

He also called Republican Justin Amash “al-Qaeda’s best friend in Congress” and blasted Tea Party supporters as “phony conservative members who have no credible policy proposals.”

Nunes has a Heritage Action score of only 49 percent, meaning he votes with the liberals a majority of the time.  He is ranked in the bottom 10 percent among Republican voting records.

A California member and loyal Ryan lieutenant, Nunes has been rewarded with plum positions on the Ways and Means Committee, which writes federal tax policy.