John Boehner

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John Boehner
John Boehner official portrait.jpg
Boehner in April 2009
61st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Deputy Roy Blunt (2007–2009)
Eric Cantor (2009–2011)
Preceded by Nancy Pelosi
Succeeded by Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader
In office
February 2, 2006 – January 3, 2007
Deputy Roy Blunt
Preceded by Roy Blunt (Acting)
Succeeded by Steny Hoyer
Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Workforce
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2006
Preceded by William Goodling
Succeeded by Howard McKeon
Chairman of the House Republican Conference
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Dick Armey
Succeeded by J.C. Watts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 8th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1991
Preceded by Buz Lukens
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 57th district
In office
January 3, 1985 – December 31, 1990
Preceded by Bill Donham
Succeeded by Scott Nein
Personal details
Born John Andrew Boehner
(1949-11-17) November 17, 1949 (age 64)
Reading, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Deborah Gunlack
(1973–present)
Children Lindsay Boehner
Tricia Boehner
Residence West Chester Township, Butler County, Ohio
Alma mater Xavier University (B.A.)
Profession Business consultant
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature
Website Speaker of the House
Friends of John Boehner Fighting for Freedom. Making a Difference.
John Boehner – 8th District of Ohio
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1968 (8 weeks)

John Andrew Boehner (/ˈbnər/ ;[a] born November 17, 1949) is the 61st and current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.[2] A member of the Republican Party, he is the U.S. Representative from Ohio's 8th congressional district, serving since 1991. The district includes several rural and suburban areas near Cincinnati and Dayton.

Boehner previously served as the House Minority Leader from 2007 until 2011, and House Majority Leader from 2006 until 2007. As Speaker of the House, Boehner is second in line to the presidency of the United States following the Vice President in accordance with the Presidential Succession Act.

Early life, education, and career

Boehner was born in Reading, Ohio, the son of Mary Anne (née Hall) and Earl Henry Boehner, the second of twelve children. His father was of German descent and his mother had German and Irish ancestry.[3][4][5][6][7] He grew up in modest circumstances, having shared one bathroom with his eleven siblings in a two-bedroom house in Cincinnati. His parents slept on a pull-out couch.[8] He started working at his family's bar at age 8, a business founded by their grandfather Andy Boehner in 1938.[8] He has lived in Southwest Ohio his entire life. All but two of his siblings still live within a few miles of each other; two are unemployed and most of the others have blue-collar jobs.[9][10]

Boehner attended Cincinnati's Moeller High School and was a linebacker on the school's football team, where he was coached by future Notre Dame coach Gerry Faust.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17] Graduating from Moeller in 1968, when U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was at its peak, Boehner enlisted in the United States Navy but was honorably discharged after eight weeks because of a bad back.[18] He earned his B.A. in business administration from Xavier University in 1977, becoming the first person in his family to attend college, taking seven years as he held several jobs to pay for his education.[8]

Shortly after his graduation in 1977, Boehner accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry. He was steadily promoted and eventually became president of the firm, resigning in 1990 when he was elected to Congress.[5]

Early political career

From 1982 to 1984, Boehner served on the board of trustees of Union Township, Butler County, Ohio. He then served as an Ohio state representative from 1985 to 1990.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives

In 1990, Boehner ran against incumbent congressman Buz Lukens, who was under fire for having a sexual relationship with a minor. He trounced Lukens in the primary, taking 49 percent of the vote. This was tantamount to election in the heavily Republican 8th District. He has been reelected 10 times with no substantial opposition, and even ran unopposed in 1994 and 2012.

Gang of Seven and Contract with America

During his freshman year, Boehner was a member of the Gang of Seven which was involved in bringing media attention to the House banking scandal.[19]

Boehner, along with Newt Gingrich and several other Republican lawmakers, was one of the engineers of the Contract with America in 1994 that politically helped Republicans during the 1994 congressional elections during which they won the majority in Congress for the first time in four decades.

Republican leadership

From 1995 to 1999, Boehner served as House Republican Conference Chairman which is the party caucus for Republicans in the United States House of Representatives. In this post, he was the fourth-ranking House Republican, behind Gingrich, Majority Leader Dick Armey and Majority Whip Tom DeLay.

During his time as Conference Chairman, Boehner championed the Freedom to Farm Act that, among other provisions, revises and simplifies direct payment programs for crops and eliminates milk price supports through direct government purchases.

In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans, who saw Speaker Newt Gingrich's public image as a liability, attempted to replace him as Speaker. The attempted "coup" began July 9 with a meeting between Republican conference chairman Boehner and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the coup.[20]

On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On July 16, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly. Paxon was the only unelected member of the leadership group, having been appointed to his position by Gingrich.[21]

In 1998, Boehner was ousted as the chairman of the House Republican Conference, after his party lost five congressional seats.[22]

Chairman of Committee on Education and Labor

Boehner, as House Minority Leader, campaigns for fellow Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers (left) during the 2010 midterm elections

Following the election of President George W. Bush, Boehner was elected as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee from 2001 until 2006. There he authored several reforms including the Pension Protection Act and a successful school choice voucher program for low-income children in Washington, DC.[23]

Boehner and Senator Ted Kennedy authored the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which was signed by President George W. Bush in 2002.[24] Boehner said that it was his “proudest achievement” in two decades of public service.[25] Boehner was friends with Kennedy, also a Roman Catholic, and every year they chaired fundraisers for cash-strapped Catholic schools.[26]

House Republican Leader

In an upset, Boehner was elected by his colleagues to serve as House Majority Leader on February 2, 2006. The election followed Tom DeLay's resignation from the post after being indicted on criminal charges. Boehner campaigned as a reform candidate who wanted to reform the so-called "earmark" process and rein in government spending. He defeated Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and Representative John Shadegg of Arizona, even though he was considered an underdog candidate to Blunt. In the second round of voting by the House Republican Conference, Boehner defeated Blunt with 122 to 109 votes. Blunt kept his previous position as Majority Whip, the No. 3 leadership position in the House. (There was some confusion on the first ballot for Majority Leader as the first count showed one more vote cast than Republicans present,[27] due to a misunderstanding as to whether the rules allowed Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico to vote or not).[28]

After the Republicans lost control of the House in the 2006 elections, the House Republican Conference chose Boehner as Minority Leader. While as Majority Leader he was second-in-command behind Speaker Dennis Hastert, as Minority Leader he was the leader of the House Republicans. As such, he was the Republican nominee for Speaker in 2006 and 2008, losing both times to Pelosi. While the Speaker is nominally elected by the full House, in practice he or she is almost always chosen by the majority party.

According to the 2008 Congress.org Power Ranking, Boehner was the 6th most powerful congressman (preceded by Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander M. Levin, Dean of the House John Dingell, and Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, all Democrats) and the most powerful Republican.[29] As Minority Leader, Boehner served as an ex officio member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Speaker of the House

Speaker Boehner greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the 2011 State of the Union Address.

The Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives during the 2010 midterm elections, with a net gain of 63 seats. During his solemn victory speech, Boehner broke into tears when talking about "economic freedom, individual liberty and personal responsibility...I hold these values dear because I've lived them...I've spent my whole life chasing the American Dream".[26] November 17, 2010, Boehner was unanimously chosen by the House Republicans as their nominee for Speaker,[30][31] all but assuring his formal election to the post when the new Congress convened with a Republican majority in January 2011. He received the gavel from outgoing Speaker Pelosi on Wednesday, January 5, 2011.[32] He is the first Speaker from Ohio since fellow Republicans Nicholas Longworth (1925 to 1931) and J. Warren Keifer (1881 to 1883). He is also the first Speaker who has served both as majority and minority floor leader for his party since Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn.[citation needed]

As Speaker, he is still the leader of the House Republicans. However, by tradition, he normally does not take part in debate, although he has the right to do so, and almost never votes from the floor.[33] He is not a member of any House committees.

Boehner was narrowly re-elected as Speaker of the House on January 3, 2013 at the beginning of the 113th United States Congress.[34] He received 220 votes, needing 214 to win.[35]

Boehner appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on January 23, 2014. When asked by Leno if he would ever run for president, the Speaker said no, adding, "I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. I do drink red wine, I smoke cigarettes. And I'm not giving that up to be President of the United States."[36]

In July 2014 Boehner moved forwards on a lawsuit to force the President to impose penalties on companies who failed to provide health care coverage for their employees.[37] Boehner had pressed for legislation to delay this mandate the previous year.[38] The day after voting to sue the President for what he saw as ignoring a law passed by Congress, Boehner called on the President to ignore another law passed by Congress.[39]

Controversies

Connections to lobbyists

In June 1995, Boehner distributed campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists on the House floor as House members were weighing how to vote on tobacco subsidies.[40] In a 1996 documentary by PBS called The People and the Power Game, Boehner said "They asked me to give out a half dozen checks quickly before we got to the end of the month and I complied. And I did it on the House floor, which I regret. I should not have done. It's not a violation of the House rules, but it's a practice that‘s gone on here for a long time that we're trying to stop and I know I'll never do it again."[41] Boehner eventually led the effort to change House rules and prohibit campaign contributions from being distributed on the House floor.[42]

A September 2010 New York Times story said Boehner was "Tightly Bound to Lobbyists" and "He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.".[43]

Smithsonian

In November 2010, Boehner, along with Minority Whip Eric Cantor, called for the cancellation of an exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery after he learned that it featured a video by David Wojnarowicz, A Fire in My Belly, that contained an image of a crucifix with ants crawling on it. Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said, "Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves [in]."[44]

Fiscal cliff and Hurricane Sandy relief bill

On January 1, 2013, after passing the fiscal cliff deal, Boehner adjourned the house without passing the $60 million Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Some Representatives, especially from the Northeast and including Republicans as well as Democrats, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie harshly criticized Boehner.[45] Boehner later promised to pass the bill.[46] However, some commentators praised Boehner for not passing a bill they saw as full of pork barrel.[47]

Political positions

Boehner introducing then-president George W. Bush in Troy, Ohio in 2003.

A profile in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said, "On both sides of the aisle, Boehner earns praise for candor and an ability to listen."[48] The Plain Dealer says Boehner "has perfected the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable."[49]

Boehner has been classified as a "hard-core conservative" by OnTheIssues.[50] Although Boehner has a conservative voting record, when he was running for House leadership, religious conservatives in the GOP expressed that they were not satisfied with his positions. According to the Washington Post: "From illegal immigration to sanctions on China to an overhaul of the pension system, Boehner, as chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, took ardently pro-business positions that were contrary to those of many in his party. Religious conservatives – examining his voting record – see him as a policymaker driven by small-government economic concerns, not theirs."[51]

Boehner voted for a Federal Marriage Amendment. In a letter to the Rights Campaign, Boehner stated, "I oppose any legislation that would provide special rights for homosexuals... Please be assured that I will continue to work to protect the idea of the traditional family as one of the fundamental tenets of western civilization."[52][53]

On May 25, 2006, Boehner issued a statement defending his agenda and attacking his "Democrat friends" such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Boehner said regarding national security that voters "have a choice between a Republican Party that understands the stakes and is dedicated to victory, and a Democrat Party with a non-existent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges of a post-9/11 world and is all too willing to concede defeat on the battlefield in Iraq."

Boehner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[54]

Financial crisis

On September 18, 2008, Congressman Boehner attended a closed meeting with congressional leaders, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and was urged to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks. That same day (trade effective the next day), Congressman Boehner cashed out of an equity mutual fund.[55]

On October 3, 2008 Boehner voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP),[56] believing that the enumerated powers grant Congress the authority to "purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in order to strengthen its financial sector."

Speaker Boehner meets with President Obama at the White House during the 2011 debt ceiling increase negotiations

Boehner has been highly critical of several initiatives by the Democratic Congress and President Barack Obama, including the "cap and trade" plan that Boehner says would hurt job growth in his congressional district and elsewhere. He opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and said that, if Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections, they would do whatever it takes to stop the act. One option would be to defund the administrative aspect of the Act, not paying "one dime" to pay the salaries of the workers who would administer the plan.[57] He also led an opposition to the 2009 stimulus and to Obama's first budget proposal, promoting instead an alternative economic recovery plan[58] and a Republican budget (authored by Ranking Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI).[59] He has advocated for an across-the-board spending freeze, including entitlement programs. Boehner favors making changes in Social Security, such as by raising the retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, as well as tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation, and limiting payments to those who need them.[57]

In 2011 Boehner called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act “one of our highest legislative priorities.”[60][61]

In 2013 Boehner led his caucus in a strategy to hold Defense spending hostage in order to avoid reducing the deficit with revenue increases.[62]

Political campaigns

2006

In the November 2006 election, Boehner defeated the Democratic Party candidate, U.S. Air Force veteran Mort Meier, 64% to 36%.[63]

2008

In the November 2008 election, Boehner defeated Nicholas Von Stein, 68% to 32%.[64]

2010

Boehner was opposed by Democratic nominee Justin Coussoule, Constitution Party nominee Jim Condit, and Libertarian nominee David Harlow; but won the 2010 election.[65]

As Republican House Leader, Boehner is a Democratic target for criticism of Republican views and political positions. In July 2010, President Barack Obama began singling out Boehner for criticism during his speeches.[66] In one speech, Obama mentioned Boehner's name nine times[67] and accused him of believing that police, firefighters, and teachers were jobs "not worth saving."[68]

Electoral history

Ohio's 8th congressional district: Results 1990–2012[69][70]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct Other Party Votes Pct Other Party Votes Pct
1990 Gregory Jolivette 63,584 38.88% John Boehner 99,955 61.11%
1992 Fred Sennet 62,033 26% John Boehner 176,362 74%
1994 No candidate John Boehner 148,338 100%
1996 Jeffrey Kitchen 52,912 26% John Boehner 127,979 70% William Baker Natural Law 8,613 4%
1998 John W. Griffin 52,912 29% John Boehner 127,979 71%
2000 John G. Parks 66,293 26% John Boehner 179,756 71% David Shock Libertarian 7,254 3%
2002 Jeff Hardenbrook 49,444 29% John Boehner 119,947 71%
2004 Jeff Hardenbrook 90,574 31% John Boehner 201,675 69%
2006 Mort Meier 77,640 36% John Boehner 136,863 64%
2008 Nicholas Von Stein 95,510 32% John Boehner 202,063 68%
2010 Justin Coussoule 65,883 30% John Boehner 142,731 66% David Harlow Libertarian 5,121 2% James Condit Constitution 3,701 2%
2012 No candidate John Boehner 239,221 99% James Condit Constitution 329 .14%

Speakership of the United States House of Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives speaker election, 2007[71]
Candidate Votes  %
Nancy Pelosi 233 53.6%
John Boehner 202 46.4%
Total 435 100%
U.S. House of Representatives speaker election, 2009[72]
Candidate Votes  %
Nancy Pelosi 255 58.6%
John Boehner 174 40.1%
Didn't vote 5 0.9%
Total 434[b] 100%
U.S. House of Representatives speaker election, 2011[73]
Candidate Votes  %
John Boehner 242 55.6%
Nancy Pelosi 173 39.8%
Heath Shuler 11 2.5%
John Lewis 2 <1.0%
Dennis Cardoza 1 <1.0%
Jim Costa 1 <1.0%
Jim Cooper 1 <1.0%
Steny Hoyer 1 <1.0%
Marcy Kaptur 1 <1.0%
Not voting[c] 2 <1.0%
Total 435 100%
President Obama and Boehner enjoying Saint Patrick's Day, March 14, 2014
U.S. House of Representatives speaker election, 2013[74]
Candidate Votes  %
John Boehner 220 50.8%
Nancy Pelosi 192 44.3%
Eric Cantor 3 <1.0%
Jim Cooper 2 <1.0%
Allen West[d] 2 <1.0%
Justin Amash 1 <1.0%
John Dingell 1 <1.0%
Jim Jordan 1 <1.0%
Raul Labrador 1 <1.0%
John Lewis 1 <1.0%
Colin Powell[d] 1 <1.0%
David Walker[d] 1 <1.0%
Not voting[e] 7 1.6%
Total 433[f] 100%

Campaign finance

Top 10 organizations funding

The top 10 contributors (not including political parties or other candidates) to John Boehner's campaign for the period of Jan 1, 2011 - Dec 31, 2012 represent a variety of interests.[75]

Organization Contributions
AT&T $156,750
FirstEnergy $89,050
Sallie Mae $86,750
Paulson & Co. $81,050
American Electric Power $54,450
Moore Capital Management $51,500
Swisher International Group $50,000
Cantor Fitzgerald $46,000
Goldman Sachs $42,500
Chicago Mercantile Exchange $39,200

Personal life

Boehner and his wife Debbie were married in 1973, and live in the Wetherington section of West Chester Township. They have two daughters, Lindsay and Tricia.[76] Lindsay is married to Dominic Lakhan, a Jamaican-born construction worker.[77]

Notes

  1. ^ The German pronunciation of the Low German surname Boehner/Böhner is [ˈbøːnɐ];[1] however, Boehner's biography at House.gov recommends the pronunciation /ˈbnər/.
  2. ^ At the time of the election, one seat was vacant, leaving 434 voting representatives.
  3. ^ Of these 2, 1 member did not cast a vote and 1 cast a vote of "present".
  4. ^ a b c Not a sitting member of the House of Representatives.
  5. ^ Of these 7, 6 members did not cast a vote and 1 cast a vote of "present".
  6. ^ At the time of the election, two seats were vacant, leaving 433 voting representatives.

References

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  9. ^ Harnden, Toby (September 17, 2010). "John Boehner: the second of 12 kids from Ohio who is Barack Obama's elitist target". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
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  11. ^ Brian Williams (interviewer) and John Boehner (interviewee) (January 6, 2011). Boehner talks about tearfulness: 'It's who I am'. NBC Nightly News. Event occurs at 3:03. 
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  77. ^ No news is good news The New Yorker. June 8, 2013.

Further reading

  • Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics 2006: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2005) pp 1328–32.

External links