On Politics Catalina Camia, USA TODAY 12:31 p.m. EDT October 21, 2013
More than six in 10 Americans say Speaker John Boehner should be replaced as the top leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, a poll finds.
Fresh off a 16-day government shutdown that damaged the Republican Party in the eyes of many, 63% of adults said in the CNN/ORC International poll released Monday said Boehner, R-Ohio, should no longer wield the gavel. That compares with 30% who say Boehner should continue as speaker.
More than half of respondents, or 54%, say it’s “bad for the country” that Republicans control the House, according to the CNN/ORC poll.
The poll findings on Boehner, who became speaker after a Tea Party wave in 2010, seem to run counter to the sentiment among House Republicans. After the federal government reopened last week, Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, one of the Republicans who came to Washington with Tea Party support, said he believed Boehner was “100% stronger.”
Boehner, first elected to Congress in 1990, has sometimes had a challenging time managing the hard-line conservatives in the GOP conference, who are more confrontational than the Republicans elected a decade before them. Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have said Boehner has been overrun by the “Tea Party anarchists” who wanted to use a stopgap spending bill to defund or derail President Obama’s health care law.
Last week, Boehner was forced to pull a bill to reopen the government and avert possible default — different from a plan negotiated in the Senate — when it was clear he lacked the votes to pass the measure. The next day, talks resumed in the Senate and a bipartisan deal reached by Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell eventually cleared both chambers and was signed by Obama.
In the end, 144 Republicans such as Mulvaney rejected the Senate’s bipartisan plan to fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit through Feb. 7.
“No one blames him for this,” Mulvaney said last week on CNN. “We could not get him the votes. That was our failure, it wasn’t the speaker’s fault.”
Earlier this year, when conservatives in the House pushed Boehner and the GOP leadership to hold the line against increased taxes as part of the deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” the speaker openly lamented the challenges of his leadership post.
“I need this job like a hole in my head,” Boehner said in January to The Wall Street Journal.
CNN/ORC International surveyed 841 adults Friday through Sunday. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.
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