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John Boehner

John Andrew Boehner ( ;[1] born , 1949) is the 61st[2] and current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A member of the Republican Party, he is the U.S. Representative from , serving since 1991. The district includes several rural and suburban areas near Cincinnati and Dayton, and a small portion of Dayton itself.

Boehner previously served as the House Minority Leader from 2007 until 2011, and House Majority Leader from 2006 until 2007. As Speaker of the House, Boehner is second in line to the presidency of the United States following the Vice President in accordance with the Presidential Succession Act.


Early life, education and career

Boehner was born in Reading, Ohio, the son of Mary Anne (n e Hall) and Earl Henry Boehner, the second of twelve children. His father was of German descent and his mother had German and Irish ancestry.[3][4][5][6][7] He grew up in modest circumstances, having shared one bathroom with his eleven siblings in a two-bedroom house in Cincinnati. His parents slept on a pull-out couch.[8] He started working at his family's bar at age 8, a business founded by their grandfather Andy Boehner in 1938.[8] He has lived in Southwest Ohio his entire life. All but two of his siblings still live within a few miles of each other; two are unemployed and most of the others have blue-collar jobs.[9]

Boehner attended Cincinnati's Moeller High School and was a linebacker on the school's football team, where he was coached by future Notre Dame coach Gerry Faust.[10] Graduating from Moeller in 1968, when U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was at its peak, Boehner enlisted in the United States Navy but was honorably discharged after eight weeks because of a bad back.[11] He earned his B.A. in business administration from Xavier University in 1977, becoming the first person in his family to attend college, taking seven years as he held several jobs to pay for his education.[8]

Shortly after his graduation in 1977, Boehner accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry. He was steadily promoted and eventually became president of the firm, resigning in 1990 when he was elected to Congress.[5]

Early political career

From 1982 to 1984, Boehner served on the board of trustees of Union Township, Butler County, Ohio. He then served as an Ohio state representative from 1985 to 1990.

U.S. House of Representatives

In 1990, Boehner ran against incumbent congressman Buz Lukens, who was under fire for having a sexual relationship with a minor. He trounced Lukens in the primary, taking 49 percent of the vote. This was tantamount to election in the heavily Republican 8th District. He has been reelected 10 times with no substantial opposition, and even ran unopposed in 1994.

Gang of Seven

During his freshman year, Boehner and fellow members of the Gang of Seven took on the House establishment, Republicans and Democrats alike, and successfully closed the House Bank (House banking scandal), uncovered "dine-and-dash" practices at the House Restaurant, and exposed drug sales and illegal cash-for-stamps deals at the House Post Office.[12]

Contract with America

Boehner, along with Newt Gingrich and several other Republican lawmakers, was one of the engineers of the Contract with America in 1994 that helped catapult Republicans into the majority in Congress for the first time in four decades.

Legislative accomplishments

From 1995 to 1999, Boehner served as House Republican Conference Chairman which is the party caucus for Republicans in the United States House of Representatives. In this post, he was the fourth-ranking House Republican, behind Gingrich, Majority Leader Dick Armey and Majority Whip Tom DeLay. There he championed the Freedom to Farm Act that, among other provisions, revises and simplifies direct payment programs for crops and eliminates milk price supports through direct government purchases.

Following the election of President George W. Bush, Boehner was elected as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee from 2001 until 2006. There he authored several reforms including the Pension Protection Act and a successful school choice voucher program for low-income children in Washington, DC.[13] He was also a major force in the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, saying it was his proudest achievement in two decades of public service.[14]

Leadership challenge

In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans, who saw Speaker Newt Gingrich's public image as a liability, attempted to replace him as Speaker. The attempted "coup" began July 9 with a meeting between Republican conference chairman Boehner and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the coup.[15]

On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats along with dissenting Republicans would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On July 16, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly. Paxon was the only unelected member of the leadership group, having been appointed to his position by Gingrich.[16]

Congressional leadership

alt= In 1998, Boehner was ousted as the chairman of the House Republican Conference, after his party lost five congressional seats.[17]

In an upset, Boehner was elected by his colleagues to serve as House Majority Leader on February 2, 2006. The election followed Tom DeLay's resignation from the post after being indicted on criminal charges.

Boehner campaigned as a reform candidate who wanted to reform the so-called "earmark" process and rein in government spending. He defeated Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and Representative John Shadegg of Arizona, even though he was considered an underdog candidate to Blunt. In the second round of voting by the House Republican Conference, Boehner defeated Blunt with 122 to 109 votes. Blunt kept his previous position as Majority Whip, the No. 3 leadership position in the House. (There was some confusion on the first ballot for Majority Leader as the first count showed one more vote cast than Republicans present,[18] due to a misunderstanding as to whether the rules allowed Resident Commissioner Luis Fortu o of Puerto Rico to vote or not).[19]

After the Republicans lost control of the House in the 2006 elections, the House Republican Conference chose Boehner as Minority Leader. While as Majority Leader he was second-in-command behind Speaker Dennis Hastert, as Minority Leader he was the leader of the House Republicans. As such, he was the Republican nominee for Speaker in 2006 and 2008, losing both times to Pelosi. While the Speaker is nominally elected by the full House, in practice he or she is almost always chosen by the majority party.

According to the 2008 Power Ranking, Boehner was the 6th most powerful congressman (preceded by Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander M. Levin, Dean of the House John Dingell, and Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, all Democrats) and the most powerful Republican.[20] As Minority Leader, Boehner served as an ex officio member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Speaker of the House

Boehner is greeted as the House Speaker by U.S. President Barack Obama, before the 2011 State of the Union Address. On November 17, 2010, Boehner was unanimously chosen by the House Republicans as their nominee for Speaker,[21][22] all but assuring his formal election to the post when the new Congress convened with a Republican majority in January 2011. He is the first Speaker from Ohio since fellow Republicans Nicholas Longworth (1925 to 1931) and J. Warren Keifer (1881 to 1883). He is also the first Speaker who has served both as majority and minority floor leader for his party since Texas Democrat Sam Rayburn.

As Speaker, Boehner is still the leader of the House Republicans. However, by tradition, he normally does not take part in debate (though he has the right to do so) and almost never votes from the floor. He is also not a member of any House committees.


Connections to lobbyists

In June 1995, Boehner distributed campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists on the House floor as House members were weighing how to vote on tobacco subsidies.[23] In a 1996 documentary by PBS called The People and the Power Game, Boehner said "They asked me to give out a half dozen checks quickly before we got to the end of the month and I complied. And I did it on the House floor, which I regret. I should not have done. It's not a violation of the House rules, but it's a practice that s gone on here for a long time that we're trying to stop and I know I'll never do it again."[24] Boehner eventually led the effort to change House rules and prohibit campaign contributions from being distributed on the House floor.[25]

A September 2010 New York Times story said Boehner was "Tightly Bound to Lobbyists" and "He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.".[26]


In November 2010, Boehner, along with Minority Whip Eric Cantor, called for the cancellation of an exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery after he learned that it featured a video by David Wojnarowicz, A Fire in My Belly, that contained an image of a crucifix with ants crawling on it. Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said, "Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves [in]."[27]

Political positions

Boehner introducing then-president George W. Bush in Troy, Ohio in 2003.
Boehner introducing then-president George W. Bush in Troy, Ohio in 2003.

A profile in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said, "On both sides of the aisle, Boehner earns praise for candor and an ability to listen."[28] The Plain Dealer says Boehner "has perfected the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable."[29]

Boehner has been classified as a "hard-core conservative" by OnTheIssues.[30] Although Boehner does have a conservative voting record, when he was running for House leadership, religious conservatives in the GOP expressed that they were not satisfied with his positions. According to the Washington Post: "From illegal immigration to sanctions on China to an overhaul of the pension system, Boehner, as chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, took ardently pro-business positions that were contrary to those of many in his party. Religious conservatives examining his voting record see him as a policymaker driven by small-government economic concerns, not theirs."[31]

Boehner has received a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign in the last three congressional sessions, voting against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, the Early Treatment for HIV Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Boehner voted for a Federal Marriage Amendment. In a letter to the Rights Campaign, Boehner stated, "I oppose any legislation that would provide special rights for homosexuals... Please be assured that I will continue to work to protect the idea of the traditional family as one of the fundamental tenets of western civilization."[32][33]

On May 25, 2006, Boehner issued a statement defending his agenda and attacking his "Democrat friends" such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Boehner said regarding national security that voters "have a choice between a Republican Party that understands the stakes and is dedicated to victory, and a Democrat Party with a non-existent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges of a post-9/11 world and is all too willing to concede defeat on the battlefield in Iraq."

Boehner is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[34]

Military spending

Boehner has called on the President to justify spending for military operations against terrorists.[35]

Financial crisis

On September 18, 2008, Congressman Boehner attended a closed meeting with congressional leaders, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and was urged to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks. That same day (trade effective the next day), Congressman Boehner cashed out of an equity mutual fund.[36]

On October 3, 2008 Boehner voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP),[37] believing that the enumerated powers grant Congress the authority to "purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in order to strengthen its financial sector."

Speaker Boehner meets with President Obama at the White House during the 2011 debt celing increase negotiations
Speaker Boehner meets with President Obama at the White House during the 2011 debt celing increase negotiations
Boehner has been highly critical of several initiatives by the Democratic Congress and President Barack Obama, including the "cap and trade" plan that Boehner says would hurt job growth in his congressional district and elsewhere. He opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and said that, if Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections, they would do whatever it takes to stop the act. One option would be to defund the administrative aspect of the Act, not paying "one dime" to pay the salaries of the workers who would administer the plan.[38] He also led an opposition to the 2009 stimulus and to Obama's first budget proposal, promoting instead an alternative economic recovery plan[39] and a Republican budget (authored by Ranking Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI).[40] He has advocated for an across-the-board spending freeze, including entitlement programs. Boehner favors making changes in Social Security, such as by raising the retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, as well as tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation, and limiting payments to those who need them.[38]

In 2011 Boehner called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act one of our highest legislative priorities. [41][42]

Political campaigns


In the November 2006 election, Boehner defeated the Democratic Party candidate, U.S. Air Force veteran Mort Meier, 64% to 36%.[43]


In the November 2008 election, Boehner defeated Nicholas Von Stein, 68% to 32%.[44]


Boehner was opposed by Democratic nominee Justin Coussoule, Constitution Party nominee Jim Condit, and Libertarian nominee David Harlow; but won the 2010 election.[45]

As Republican House Leader, Boehner is a Democratic target for criticism of Republican views and political positions. In July 2010, President Barack Obama began singling out Boehner for criticism during his speeches.[46] In one speech, Obama mentioned Boehner's name nine times[47] and accused him of believing that police, firefighters, and teachers were jobs "not worth saving."[48]

Electoral history

: Results 1990–2010[49][50]
Year !|Democrat Votes Pct !|Republican Votes Pct !|Other Party Votes Pct !|Other Party Votes Pct |- 1990 Gregory Jolivette 66,584 40% 99,955 60%
1992 Fred Sennet 62,033 26% 176,362 74%
1994 No candidate 148,338 100%
1996 Jeffrey Kitchen 52,912 26% 127,979 70% William Baker Natural Law 8,613 4%
1998 John W. Griffin 52,912 29% 127,979 71%
2000 John G. Parks 66,293 26% 179,756 71% David Shock Libertarian 7,254 3%
2002 49,444 29% John Boehner 119,947 71%
2004 90,574 31% John Boehner 201,675 69%
2006 Mort Meier 77,640 36% John Boehner 136,863 64%
2008 95,510 32% John Boehner 202,063 68%
2010 65,883 30% John Boehner 142,731 66% David Harlow Libertarian 5,121 2% James Condit Constitution 3,701 2%

Personal life

Boehner and his wife Debbie were married in 1973, and live in the Wetherington section of West Chester Township. They have two daughters, Lindsay and Tricia.[51]



Further reading

  • Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics 2006: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2005) pp 1328 32.

External links

Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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