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Friday, October 21, 2016

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner on Wednesday brushed off a conservative lawmaker’s call for his ouster, saying it was “no big deal” because he has broad support among Republicans who form the majority in the chamber.

Boehner said that the fellow Republican who introduced the resolution on Tuesday, Representative Mark Meadows, is just one member of Congress, adding that Meadows’ motion “isn’t even deserving of a vote.”

In filing the motion for Boehner’s ouster, Meadows, a North Carolina conservative, said he was tired of a “punitive culture” against dissidents in the U.S. House.

Meadows’ unusual move was thought to have little chance of success in a chamber where the leadership tightly controls the floor agenda, but it highlighted the friction within the Republican Party ahead of the presidential election in 2016.

The rebellious congressman is a part of a group of several dozen conservative Republicans who often are at odds with the more moderate Boehner. Recently they have disagreed on whether the Export-Import Bank, a government export credit agency, should be continued. Conservatives are trying to kill the bank; Boehner supports it.

Meadows declined on Wednesday to say what kind of reception his motion received in the House, telling reporters that he had been in hearings, with little time to converse with colleagues.

Another Republican maverick, Representative Walter Jones, said he backed Meadows’ move because he wanted more conservative leadership and disliked what he described as “coercive” tactics by his party’s leaders.

“My feeling is that the American people want a different leadership because this leadership has proven that they cannot work with the members,” Jones said.

Some of Boehner’s allies had thought he might put the motion to a vote to show he could defeat it. But Boehner’s words indicated he was more inclined to try to ignore it.

“Listen, because America has essentially a two-party system, each of the parties represents a pretty wide divergent set of views,” Boehner said at a regular weekly news conference.

“You’ve got a member here and a member there who are off the reservation. No big deal,” he said.

Recently, a committee chairman, presumably acting on orders of Boehner, stripped Meadows of his subcommittee chairmanship after Meadows and a number of other conservatives voted against a procedural motion during a heated trade debate in June.

Meadows’ gavel was returned to him, reportedly after other members of the committee protested.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

Photo: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) gestures during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas