The Atlantic

Could Conservatives Actually Pull Off a Coup Against House Leadership?

“There are some who believe being relevant means throwing a hand grenade in the middle of the conference.”
Source: Joshua Roberts / Reuters

On July 28, 2015, Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina virtually unknown outside his district, quietly catalyzed a coup against then-Speaker John Boehner. By filing a motion to vacate the chair—a parliamentary maneuver that hadn’t been used since 1910—Meadows triggered a process to put Boehner’s speakership up for a vote, rallying many of his fellow conservatives behind the cause.

That vote never happened. Sensing an uncertain outcome, Boehner accelerated his already existent plans to retire from Congress. Regardless of whether Meadows’s motion was an act of pure showmanship or a principled stand—or something else—one thing seemed certain in the aftermath: The Freedom Caucus member had acted deliberately and even cautiously. Meadows “spent months weighing whether to launch the attack,” . “It was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done,” Meadows told the magazine.

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