FILE – This May 16, 2013 file photo shows House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gesturing toward a stack of paper representing the 20,000 pages of Affordable Health Care Act regulations during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The ups and downs Boehner in 2013 dramatize the difficulties of managing a narrow Republican majority in the House. Some associates and observers say the low point of Boehner’s year was almost a year ago, Jan. 3, 2013, the first day of the 113th Congress. With the Ohio Republican’s family watching from the House gallery, a dozen defiant GOP lawmakers refused to back his bid to be re-elected speaker. The mini-rebellion fell short, but it delivered an embarrassing rebuke from conservatives. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File) / AP
Alan Fram, Associated Press, Reports:
WASHINGTON — It says a lot about House Speaker John Boehner’s rough 2013 that even friends debate when the low point hit.
Some say it was Jan. 3, the first day of the 113th Congress. With the Ohio Republican’s family watching from the House gallery, a dozen defiant GOP lawmakers refused to back his bid to be re-elected speaker. The mini-rebellion fell short but it delivered an embarrassing rebuke from conservatives.
To others the nadir came in September. That’s when Republicans ignored his advice and embraced a politically disastrous strategy of partially shutting down the government in a futile effort to force repeal of President Barack Obama’s prized health care law.
Boehner, 64, of West Chester, still has serious problems with tea party conservatives inside and outside Congress that limit his power. But many say he stabilized his standing among his Republicans in the final weeks of 2013 and that he ends the year stronger than ever with them.
“The speaker started out, like the Republican Party, really in a ditch,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP consultant and former congressional leadership aide. By the time the year was over, Republican lawmakers learned, “If they listen to him, he can guide them correctly.”
House Speaker John Boehner has a challenger for next year’s GOP primary.
Eric Gurr, a local businessman and political neophyte, said he decided to run against Boehner after the West Chester congressman and House Speaker endorsed a U.S. military strike against Syria.
“It was a tipping point,” the 48-year-old Gurr said in an interview. “I’m not a big fan of getting involved in the internal politics of another country.”
On his website, Gurr states: “I am thoroughly convinced that the best foreign policy is to have no foreign policy at all.”
A Liberty Township resident, Gurr is the CEO of Best & Brightest Inc., a computer consulting firm based in West Chester. The father of three children and two grandchildren, Gurr said he also thinks Boehner has fallen short on other issues, such as immigration reform.
Speaker of the House John Boehner. File photo
Boehner has said the House would not take up a Senate-passed comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, opting for a more incremental approach. Gurr said he is staunchly opposed to the Senate proposal.
“They keep saying the immigration system is broken,” Gurr said. “That’s absolute nonsense.”
Gurr said his interest in politics was spurred by a longtime love of history books. He concedes he will have a hard time challenging Boehner, who as House Speaker wields immense power and raises millions of dollars. Boehner has consistently cruised to re-election in the 8th district.
Boehner’s campaign spokesman, Cory Fritz, declined to comment on Gurr’s announcement.
The Federal Election Commission has identified $64,000 in excessive contributions made to House Speaker John Boehner’s personal re-election committee and ordered that they be returned, according to a letter the Federal Election Commission sent to the campaign this week.
“These contributions must be refunded immediately,” the FEC wrote in the Sept. 9 letter.
The donations in question—made mostly in 2011—exceeded the legal limits that federal lawmakers are allowed to accept. Individuals can donate $2,500 for a primary and another $2,500 for the general election. Political Action Committees (PACs) can donate $5,000 per election, for a total of $10,000.
The donations were from a gamut of individuals and PACs, including the Dell Employees PAC and Caesars Entertainment PAC.
Campaign finance experts say it’s fairly common for campaigns to receive such letters from the FEC pointing out possible violations and asking for action.
“I think it is common enough that people make excessive contributions,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.
But, she said, “I do think it maybe points to a lack of internal controls” inside Boehner’s operation.
A spokesman for Boehner, Cory Fritz, said the campaign would respond to the FEC’s request promptly.
“Large committees that process contributions from thousands of grassroots supporters each quarter routinely handle these questions,” he said. “We take compliance with FEC rules and regulations seriously, and will take all corrective action necessary.”
Boehner’s campaign received a similar letter in March, pointing to excess contributions totaling about $70,000.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, center, enters the House of Representatives chamber after surviving a roll call vote on Capitol Hill. Photo taken Jan. 3, 2013, by J. Scott Applewhite of the Associated Press.
Provided by Brittany Bramell, press secretary for John Boehner
Following is the full text of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) address to the opening session of the 113th Congress, as prepared for delivery:
“Leader Pelosi, members of the House and Senate, dear family and friends, fellow countrymen:
“We meet again at democracy’s great port of call. Every two years, at this hour, the Constitution brings a new order to this House. It is an interlude for reflection, a glimpse of old truths.
“To our new members and their families, welcome. You are likely feeling awestruck right about now. History runs through here. And now you are among a select few to share in this privilege.
“For those who are returning, who have walked these aisles before, maybe it’s time we feel awestruck again.
“The way our founders envisioned it, the republic would be led by citizens who recognize that the blessing of governing ourselves requires that we give something of ourselves. Everything depended on this. So they made each other – and their successors – swear an oath of allegiance.
“In a few moments, I will take this oath for the twelfth time as representative of the Eighth District of Ohio. It is word for word the same oath we all take.
“Note that it makes no mention of party, faction, or title … contains no reference to agendas or platforms – only to the Constitution.
“The one addition we dare to make, as George Washington did at the first inaugural, is to invoke the assistance of our Heavenly Father.
“This covenant makes us servants of posterity. It calls us to refuse the pull of passing interests and follow the fixed star of a more perfect union.
“Put simply, we are sent here not to be something, but to do something – to do the right thing. (more…)
West Chester’s John Boehner becomes Speaker of the House
It didn’t take long for West Chester resident John Boehner to make news in 2011.
Just five days into the year, Boehner was officially elected the 61st Speaker of the House.
Locally, more news surrounding Boehner took place as protesters picketed throughout 2011 outside his West Chester office.
However, on Jan. 5, many local residents witnessed something that they may never see again.
“Well I am 63 and this has never happened before and I doubt it will ever happen again in my lifetime,” said Bill Langdon, owner of Grand Ole Pub in West Chester. “So, to me, it is much bigger than the Super Bowl. That happens every year. Having the Speaker of the House be your congressman? Never happened to me. This is a monumental event.”
While many of the people felt a personal connection to Boehner just because they shared the same hometown, others have actually known the man before he was a congressman.
“I am trying to let this soak in,” Gary Cates, who has known Boehner for 28 years, said while watching the swearing-in of Boehner at the Grand Ole Pub. “To see this happen to someone you know is unbelievable. Outside of knowing the President of the United States personally, this is pretty big stuff.”
Cates actually knew him from the beginning when Boehner served as the president of the Lakota Hills homeowners association and as a Union Township trustee. At the time of Boehner’s swear in, Cates was an Ohio Senator. Now, Cates is the Senior Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Enterprise Development at the Ohio Board of Regents.
“He has really started at the grassroots level. It is a real great accomplishment on his part to persevere to get to where he is today,” Cates said. “I am sure I speak for a lot of people, we are all really proud of him for what he has done for our area.”
Former Cincinnati Enquirer caricature artist Jerry Dowling, who was involved in the Lakota Hills homeowners association back in the late 70s, was also at the bar to witness Boehner’s special moment.
“It is unbelievable that this could happen. No one expected John to rise up the way he has. This is just flabbergasting. We are so thrilled,” Dowling said.
“Today it is not ceremony, but tragedy that stirs us to renew our commitment to fulfill our oaths of office. Let us not let this inhuman act frighten us into doing otherwise,” Boehner said today on the House floor.
An emotional Boehner concluded:
“We will do it for Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorwan Stoddard, ordinary citizens who died participating in their democracy. We will do it for Judge John Roll. We will do it for Gabe Zimmerman. And we will do it, God-willing, with Gabrielle Giffords.
“Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not. This is a time for the House to lock arms, in prayer for those fallen and wounded, and in resolve to carry on the dialogue of democracy. We may not yet have all the answers, but we already have the answer that matters most: that we are Americans, and together we will make it through this. We will have the last word.”
A new Congress provides us a renewed opportunity to find common ground and address the priorities of the American people. Our actions must be driven by their desire for freedom, economic recovery, and fiscal sensibility, as well as a need to rebuild the broken bonds of trust between the people and their government.
Recent events have reminded us of the imperfect nature of our representative democracy, but also how much we cherish the ideal that our government exists to serve the people. Even in the wake of tragedy, we must never waver from our obligation to carry out their will and provide solutions to keep moving our nation forward.
As many great challenges lie ahead for our nation, we welcome an opportunity to hear your proposals. Therefore, I am honored to invite you to offer an address on the State of the Union on January 25, 2011, before a Joint Session of Congress.
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.
“An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Such acts of violence have no place in our society,” Boehner said.
Boehner also notified the media that, “normal business of the House this week has been postponed to take necessary actions regarding yesterday’s events.”
According to the latest Arizona Republic report, Giffords, who was shot in the head and critically wounded Saturday in what authorities say was a targeted attempt on her life, remains in critical condition this morning and is “not fully conscious,” but was following commands.
“The thoughts and prayers of the House and the nation are with the Congressman Giffords and her family,” Boehner said. “We are also praying for the families of all of those who were taken from us yesterday.”
Also according to the Arizona Republic, among the dead were U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had stopped to greet Giffords after attending morning Mass; Gabe Zimmerman, a 30-year-old aide to the congresswoman who was recently engaged; and Christina Taylor Green, a 9-year-old girl who had just been elected to her school’s student council. Also killed were Dorothy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Scheck, 79.
“I have ordered that the flags on the House side of the Capitol be flown at half-staff in Gabe’s honor,” Boehner said.
Additional information about Giffords condition was detailed in the latest story:
Giffords underwent brain surgery after the shooting, which occurred shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot outside a Safeway on Oracle Road near Ina Road just outside Tucson. The bullet, from a semiautomatic pistol, entered her head from the front and exited through the rear after passing through her brain in what doctors described as a “through and through” injury.
Neurosurgeons at University Medical Center in Tucson operated on the congresswoman, and doctors were hopeful she would recover, Dr. Peter Rhee said during a news conference.
Giffords was following commands, a good sign, he said.
C.J. Karamargin, Giffords’ communications director said late Saturday that Giffords remained in critical condition in intensive care and was not fully conscience. However, he said Gifford’s deputy director Ron Barber, who was wounded in the shooting, was “doing very well” and speaking.
“I’m very optimistic about her recovery,” Rhee said.
“Public service is a high honor, but these tragic events reminds us that all of us in our roles in service of our public citizens comes with a risk,” Boehner said. “This inhuman act should not and will not deter us from our calling to represent our constituents and fulfill our oaths of office. No act, no matter how heinous must be allowed to stop us from our duty.”
Earlier today, Speaker of the House and West Chester resident John Boehner released a statement about the shooting outside in Tucson, Ariz. The shooting killed six people and injured 18, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, according to the Arizona Republic.
“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.”
According to an article by the Arizona Republic, Giffords is out of surgery and one of her surgeons said, “I’m very optimistic about her recovery.”
More from the article:
“She was shot one time in the head through and through,” Dr. Peter Rhee said at an afternoon news conference at University Medical Center in Tucson.
The bullet entered one side of her head and exited the other after passing through her brain, Rhee said.
Giffords, 40, a third-term Democrat, was shot at an event in Tucson Saturday morning, at a Safeway at Ina and Oracle roads. Authorities identified the gunman as Jared Loughner and said the 22-year-old suspect is in custody.
“Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress,” Boehner said in his remarks. “No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions.”
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Boehner cried again before his speech as he hugged House members and even as he listened to outgoing speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Back home in West Chester, Ohio Senator Gary Cates, who has known Boehner for 28 years, couldn’t help but get emotional before the official swearing-in ceremony.
“I don’t think anybody should expect for John Boehner not to get emotional today, I am emotional now,” Cates said as the House voted for its next Speaker. “When I see him up there, it is going to bring a tear to my eye. It is just a very special moment.”
Just describing the moment had Cates fighting back the tears.
“The reason John gets emotional, is because John is a very caring person,” Cates said. “There are things that get him choked up because he cares so much about people.”
This time, Boehner, who said the word “people” twelve times in his 11-minute speech, was successful in fighting back the tears.