WASHINGTON - Two-term U.S. Republican Congressman Mark Meadows celebrated his 56th birthday Tuesday by filing a resolution to unseat Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
The resolution, called a motion to vacate the chair, is a little-used procedure last put into play more than 100 years ago.
If it were to pass, viewed as unlikely, Boehner would immediately forfeit his job as speaker of the house for serious misuse of power.
Meadows, who has had previous run-ins with the speaker, says the ploy is merely aimed at starting “a family discussion” with Boehner.
"It's really more about trying to have a conversation on making this place work," Meadows said. "Hopefully, we'll have some discussion about that in the days and weeks to come."
On Wednesday, Boehner shrugged off the motion to vacate as no big deal. “You got a member here and a member there who are off the reservation,” he said.
As an invitation to talk, the resolution uses some tough language and underscores what some say is considerable divisiveness among Republican lawmakers.
Whereas the speaker…
“…has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making bypassing the majority…”
“…has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy…”
“…uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience…”
“…uses the legislative calendar to create crises for the American people…”
Just last Friday, Republican Senator Ted Cruz called Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor.
Meadows, who represents the southern state of North Carolina and ranks among the most conservative representatives, has had a previous confrontation with the House Republican leadership.
He was recently stripped of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee chairmanship for bucking the leadership on a vote. The position was restored after fellow conservatives rallied on his behalf.
While some conservative lawmakers support the resolution, it is not generating much enthusiasm, and is even angering more mainstream Republican representatives. Democrats indicated they would not support the measure.
Republican lawmakers say the only thing the resolution to vacate will do is distract them from other issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal.
Meadows has not called for a vote on the resolution until after the monthlong August recess, which began Wednesday. He has said that he hopes it does not come to a vote at all — pending what could be a 30-day “family discussion.”
“We will be getting bogged down on who is speaker over the August recess,” Republican Representative Peter King fumed to Fox News. “We could end up like a European parliament. We should be talking about Iran. It’s terrible.”
At his regular press briefing Wednesday, Boehner stayed on message: “Let me start by saying that I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in Congress so far this year.”
He added, “I’m also proud of what we’ve accomplished as a Republican majority.”