Hensarling for Speaker Gains Traction as Discontent With Boehner Grows
Monday, 26 May 2014 04:01 PM
By Todd Beamon
Rep. Jeb Hensarling is gaining more visibility as conservatives grow more discontent with House Speaker John Boehner.
The attention is fueling speculation that the Texas Republican, who was first elected in 2002, may seek the speaker's job next year should Boehner step down, CNN reports.
"It's not something I've aspired to," Hensarling, 56, told the network last week after a speech in Washington sponsored by Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation. "It's not something I'm thinking about."
Telling CNN that he was "flattered" at being asked about possibly succeeding Boehner, Hensarling later added: "No, I haven't been Shermanesque. Again, I'm not sure there's any opportunity I want to foreclose."
Boehner, 64, is in his 12th congressional term and his second as speaker. He has insisted that he expects to be re-elected to the top GOP spot after the fall elections, though he declined to commit to serving out the full two-year term to CNN earlier this month.
But as conservatives increasingly clash publicly with Boehner, speculation continues to rise that he might step down after November.
In January 2013, for instance, a dozen House Republicans voted for others as speaker or voted "present" — a sign of no confidence — and news reports circulated this month that as many as 50 conservatives are working to infiltrate the GOP leadership in 2015, with the immediate goal of pushing aside Boehner.
Further, conservatives complained that Boehner waffled over creating a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, which he did this month, and the speaker mocked fellow Republicans over their fear of immigration reform at an Ohio Rotary Club speech last month.
The Senate Conservatives Fund has also called on Boehner to step down.
Should Boehner choose not to run again, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia is expected to move into the position, or possibly even Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.
But some House GOP members told CNN that a short list of candidates was also developing.
Besides Hensarling, it includes Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who also headed the Republican Study Committee; Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the conservative group's current chairman; Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who also headed the study group and served on Boehner's leadership team in the last Congress.
"The one consensus point is that we'd like to see more conservatives in future leadership posts," Louisiana Rep. John Fleming told CNN.
For its part, Heritage Action gave Hensarling a visible platform to outline his own governing approach, CEO Michael Needham told CNN.
The group, which has often clashed with Boehner, does not involve itself in leadership races, he said.
There is a "real need to take on sacred cows in Washington at a time when the party too often looks after K Street," Needham said, referring to a Washington street known for congressional lobbyists.
"Jeb Hensarling is a great spokesman and fighter for conservative values."
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