Joseph Cannon

Revolutionary Moment In History Of House Of Representatives, Unmatched Since 1910 “Revolt” Against Speaker Joseph Cannon!

A century ago, in October 1910, Democrats and progressive Republicans united to state a “coup” in the House of Representatives, stripping Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon of his absolute power to decide committee appointments and control the legislative agenda all by himself.

Now in June 2016, the Democrats have staged a one day sit down, demanding a vote on a gun control measure. They proceeded to prevent normal routine in the House of Representatives, and to shout down any attempt at taking action on other legislative business.

While Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was befuddled, and waited until 10pm to attempt normal legislative business, which failed, and led to the end of the official session until after the 4th of July recess, the Democrats have drawn attention to the issue of gun regulation, and it is clear they will defy Ryan again when the House of Representatives comes back into session next month.

The effect will be to put the Republicans on notice, that it is time that they stopped being captives of the National Rifle Association and Wayne La Pierre. The issue will be a major one in November, and hopefully, might cause a massive switch of seats, putting the Democrats into the majority again, although that is still highly difficult to do, as 30 or more seats would need to be gained.

But taking action, led by the icon civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis of Georgia is better than just doing nothing! Hope springs eternal!

The Ten Longest Serving Speakers Of The House Of Representatives

Paul Ryan is the 54th Speaker of the House, but the top ten longest serving have dominated in the 226 years of history of Congress.

The ten longest serving have been in the Speakership for 81 of the 226 years, more than one third of the time!

They are, in order,with time rounded off:

Sam Rayburn  17 years

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill   10 years

John W. McCormack  9 years

Dennis Hastert  8 years

Champ Clark  7 years

Henry Clay  7 years

Carl Albert   6 years

Joseph Cannon  6 years

Thomas Foley   6 years

James G. Blaine  5 years

Six of these ten (Rayburn, O’Neill, McCormack, Clark, Albert, and Foley) were Democrats for a total of 55 years.

Three of these ten (Hastert, Cannon, and Blaine) were Republicans for a total of 19 years.

One of these ten (Henry Clay) was a Democratic Republican for a total of 7 years, later becoming a Whig as a United States Senator.

Clay, Blaine and Cannon were in the years from 1811-1911; Clark and Rayburn were in the years from 1911-1961, and McCormack, Albert, O’Neill, Foley and Hastert in the years from 1962-2007!

So modern Speakers on the average have served much longer periods than earlier Speakers!

21 Significant Speakers Of The House In American History

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, it makes one focus on  the 54 House Speakers in American history, and recognition of the fact that twenty one of them were quite significant figures in the American past.

Probably the most prominent of all was one of the earliest Speakers, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who became Speaker as a freshman in 1811, and served three different times as House Speaker, from 1811-1814, 1815-1820, and 1823-1825. a total of more than six and a half years, as Congress did not meet back then for many months in any years, but sixth longest serving.  Clay is considered the most famous Congressional figure in American history in both houses of Congress, and was an unsuccessful Presidential nominee three times, in 1824, 1832, and 1844.  He was a giant figure in American political history and American politics.

John Bell was Speaker in 1834-1835, and was also a Presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in the Presidential Election of 1860, trying to prevent the Civil War by running as an alternative to the three other candidates that year—Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.  He won three states and 39 electoral votes, carrying Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the Electoral College.

James K. Polk became the only Speaker so far to become President of the United States, in the Presidential Election of 1844, after having served as House Speaker from 1835-1839.  He is considered the most successful one term President, deciding due to ill health to refuse to run f0r reelection in 1848, but gaining the whole American Southwest in war with Mexico, and arranging the peaceful acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain.  His retirement from the Presidency was the shortest in American history, only 105 days.

Robert M. T. Hunter was the youngest Speaker of the House at the age of 30, serving from 1839-1841, and later as Confederate Secretary of State in 1861-1862 during the Civil War.

Howell Cobb served as Speaker from 1849-1851, being 34 when elected, and served as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker from 1863-1869, and as Vice President in the first term of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, being the first of two Speakers to serve in the Vice Presidency, the other being John Nance Garner under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

James G. Blaine served as Speaker from 1869-1875, 10th longest serving with a little over five years, and later was the Republican nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1884.  He also served as Secretary of State under James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison, and was present at the site of the Garfield assassination in 1881.

Thomas B. Reed served as Speaker from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899, and was nicknamed “Czar Reed”, because he wielded great power in the Speakership, which added to the stature and influence of the Speakers after him.

Joseph Cannon served as House Speaker from 1903-1911, added the most power to the Speakership, more than Reed, but then saw a “revolution” of progressive Republicans led by George Norris of Nebraska, which stripped him and future Speakers of the absolute power that Reed and Cannon had waged, and was pushed out of the Speakership when the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 1910.  He was eighth longest serving Speaker, nearly six years, and had a House office building named after him despite his fall from power in 1910.

His successor, Champ Clark, served as House Speaker from 1911-1919, fifth longest serving at seven  years, and nearly won the 1912 Democratic Presidential nomination, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Nicholas Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, punished progressive Republicans and restored much of the power of the Speaker under Joseph Cannon, and was married to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.  Later, a House office building would be named after him.

John Nance Garner served 15 months as House Speaker from 1931-1933, and then became Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served two terms in that office. He became famous for his statement that the Vice Presidency was not worth  “a bucket of warm piss!”  He opposed much of the New Deal, and tried to win the nomination against his boss when FDR sought a third term in 1940.  On his 95th birthday, President John F. Kennedy wished him “Happy Birthday” just hours before his assassination on November 22, 1963. Garner died at age 98 in 1967, the longest lived Vice President or President, and just 15 days before his 99th birthday!

Sam Rayburn was the most prominent, and longest serving Speaker of the House in American history, serving a total of 17 years in three rounds as Speaker, from 1941=1947, 1949-1953, and from 1955 to near the end of 1961, when he died in office.  A House Office Building is named after him, and only he and Henry Clay served three separate terms as Speaker.  He was one of the most prominent members in the entire history of the House of Representatives, engendering great respect and admiration, and served under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

John W. McCormack was the third longest serving House Speaker, a total of nine years from 1962-1971, and served as House Majority Leader all of the years that Sam Rayburn was Speaker.  He presided over the New Frontier and Great Society legislative package under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Carl Albert served as Speaker from 1971-1977, seventh longest serving in the office, and a heartbeat away when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President in 1973, until Gerald Ford was confirmed as Vice President under the 25th Amendment in 1973, and again when Ford became President in 1974 until Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President at the end of that year.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the second longest serving House Speaker, a total of ten years from 1977-1987, serving under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  He served the longest consecutive years as Speaker, and was an unabashed liberal, but negotiated a Social Security compromise agreement with Ronald Reagan in 1983, which became the mark of bipartisanship.

Thomas Foley served six years as Speaker from 1989-1995, and became the first Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for his House seat in 1994, retiring him from the House of Representatives, but he served as Ambassador to Japan for President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001.  He was ninth longest serving Speaker.

Newt Gingrich served as Speaker for four years from 1995-1999, having been the leader of the “Republican Revolution”, where the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in “the wilderness”.  Highly controversial and combative, Gingrich led the fight against President Bill Clinton, and moved for his impeachment in 1998, but then was forced out by an internal rebellion in his own party at the end of 1998.  He sought the Presidency in 2012, but fell short of the nomination, and remains an outspoken active commentator on politics.

Dennis Hastert became the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history, serving eight years from 1999-2007, fourth longest serving, seen as non controversial after Gingrich, and being Speaker under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  He became involved in a sex and financial scandal dating back to before he was in Congress, and faces prison time as this article is being written, having pleaded guilty.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker, serving four years from 2007-2011, and remains Minority Leader today, and her two Congresses under George W. Bush and Barack Obama accomplished more legislation, particularly under Obama, than any Congress since the 1960s.

John Boehner served almost five years as Speaker from 2011 until this past week, facing highly contentious opponents in his own party, the Tea Party Movement, now known as the Freedom or Liberty Caucus, a group of about 40 Republicans, who made his life miserable, and finally, he resigned, and has handed over authority to Paul Ryan, who was Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012, and had been Chair of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, before becoming Speaker this week.

 

The Destruction Of The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives Under Republican Control Since 1994

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and is the top constitutional officer in the legislative branch of government.

The Speaker is chosen by the majority party in the chamber, and he has responsibilities which include introducing the President of the United States at a State of the Union address, and all other special speakers to a joint session of Congress, including foreign government leaders.  The Speaker has been second in line of succession to the Presidency since the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

The Speakership has had its major figures historically, including those for whom House Office Buildings are named: Joseph Cannon, Nicholas Longworth, Sam Rayburn, and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  It also has had a President, James K. Polk, and two Vice Presidents, Schuyler Colfax and John Nance Garner, as Speakers.  It also had three Presidential nominees, John Bell, James G. Blaine and Henry Clay.

Henry Clay was the greatest single figure in the whole history of Congress, who ran for President three times, including against Polk in 1844.  It also has had Thomas B. Reed, who promoted the growth of the office to its all time greatest authority, continuing under Joseph Cannon.

It also had John McCormack, who played a major role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and much of the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson.  Had there been no 25th Amendment passed in 1967, Carl Albert would have succeeded Richard Nixon when he resigned in 1974.  Were it not for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be Speaker, there would have been no ObamaCare legislation passed in 2010.

It was a rebellion of progressives in the Republican Party in 1910 , in combination with the minority Democrats, that created a “revolution” in House rules, stripping the Speaker of the absolute control of events that existed under Thomas B. Reed and Joseph Cannon, but still the office has played a major role in American history.

Since the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, after 40 years of being in the minority, and keeping control except for 2007-2011, the Speakership has become an office of disaster and controversy.

First, Newt Gingrich became very confrontational with Bill Clinton, and caused crisis after crisis, until he was forced to resign, with his private scandalous love life being discovered as Bill Clinton faced impeachment for his own scandalous love life.  Bob Livingston was supposed to succeed Gingrich, but his own private scandalous love life prevented that, so Dennis Hastert, a back bencher, became Speaker, lasted longer than any Republican in the position, and avoided most controversy, until now in retirement we have learned of his abuse of male students while a teacher and wrestling coach in high school in the years before he engaged in politics.

John Boehner came into the Speakership under Barack Obama, and faced a Tea Party rebellion, which prevented ability to negotiate, and finally, he lost the confidence of his party, and decided to resign, but his planned successor, Kevin McCarthy, self destructed in the past two weeks, and decided yesterday that he would not run for Speaker, uncertain of support of the Tea Party element.  So now Boehner is back temporarily, and there is a major crisis among House Republicans as to who would be acceptable as an alternative, with Paul Ryan, head of the House Ways and Means Committee and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, being pressured to take the job, but not wanting to take it.

The Speakership is in crisis, and the Republican Party has done great damage to the position in the past 21 years, and besmirched the historical reputation of the position and of the House of Representatives, and the only way to retrieve it is the hope that, somehow, the Democrats can regain control in 2016, but considered highly unlikely!

The Republican House Of Representatives Implodes: The Tea Party Is Destroying Congress!

Speaker of the House John Boehner has again been smacked down by the extremist right wing Tea Party caucus, about 50 members who so hate Barack Obama and everything he stands for and represents, that they are ready to bring down the government, and undermine the Department of Homeland Security created during the George W. Bush Administration in the aftermath of September 11!

Boehner must either join with Democrats to bring about the funding of this crucial government agency, with the rest of the Republican majority, OR he must resign in disgrace, as he has already proved totally unable to deal with the extremists who do not care about the heritage and traditions of the Republican Party in its 161 year history!

This nation cannot allow ourselves to be taken hostage by a group, which in its intentions, is no better than anarchists or terrorists, ready to take down the institutions of government if they cannot get their way, their desire to take us from the 21st century to the 19th century!

The House of Representatives, the “People’s Branch”, has become unable to accomplish what such a body is designed to do, govern effectively and do the business of the people!

We are in the midst of a revolution, the greatest crisis for the Speakership since the “Revolution of 1910” against Speaker Joseph Cannon, stripping him of much of his absolute powers, and democratizing the House operations. Something on that level seems essential now to take away power from this anarchistic, but also Fascist in orientation, cabal of 50 members who will stop at nothing to destroy effective government!

This crisis has been delayed a week by the last minute action of the House to allow a one week extension of the Homeland Security budget, but the same struggle will face us on March 6!

The Tea Party Movement At Five Years: What Has It Accomplished?

The Tea Party Movement reached five years of age in the last few days, and the question is what has been accomplished?

The Tea Party Movement has led to the following:

Complete stalemate and gridlock in both houses of Congress.

The weakening of the power of the Speaker of the House John Boehner to the level it was in 1910 after the “House Revolution” against Speaker Joseph Cannon.

The loss of a potential Senate majority for the Republican Party twice, when it seemed possible.

The undermining of the American economy and America’s image in the world.

The promotion of racism, misogyny, nativism, and hate and confrontation.

The undermining of national government in favor of sectionalism and secession.

The growing inability of President Obama to gain any kind of cooperation from the opposition party, unseen since the time of Andrew Johnson.

The loss of any reasonable civility between the leaders of the Republican Party and the President of the opposition party.

The growing split between the two major political parties in a manner unseen since the Civil War-Reconstruction Era 150 years ago.

The growing personal threats of assassination against President Obama, unseen at this level since the time of Abraham Lincoln.

But there are signs that the American people have had it with the Tea Party Movement in the Congress and in the state governments.

This is a clear cut warning for those promoting this divisiveness and anarchy, that the time for return to civility has arrived, and that if those in government now refuse to see the handwriting on the wall, then they will be repudiated in 2014 and 2016!

Will John Boehner Be Removed From Speakership Before End Of 2014? Highly Unlikely!

The courage and guts of Speaker John Boehner, in finally rejecting the Tea Party whackos in his caucus, and moving ahead to insure that the debt limit issue be taken off the table until March of 2015, could lead to his being deposed as House Speaker before this year is over!

It seems likely that Boehner will NOT be able to remain as Speaker after this year at the most, and he might, very well, decide to quit Congress in disgust at the end of this term.

But IF Boehner is forced out before the midterm elections, it would be likely that the GOP will lose control of the House, as unlikely as that seems to most political observers at the moment.

Never has a Speaker been forced out during his tenure, with the closest example being the stripping of much of the power of Speaker Joseph Cannon in the famous “Revolution of 1910” in October of that year, with the election for the House a month later, and the opposition Democrats winning the House and installing Champ Clark as the new Speaker in 1911-1912!

In any case, GOP disarray can only help the Democrats, and with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, forcing by his filibuster tactics, that Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader, had to vote for the extension of the debt limit, makes his Tea Party challenger in Kentucky have a greater chance of defeating McConnell, setting up a whacko against the Democratic nominee for the Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and making the likelihood of the continuation of a Democratic Senate much more likely!

Speaker John Boehner And The Uncontrollable Republican Majority

It is absolutely amazing how Speaker of the House John Boehner has been totally emasculated by the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, and seems unable to strike a deal with President Barack Obama on avoiding the so called “Fiscal Cliff”.

The only good thing out of this is that the Republican Party, already way down in the polls, and seen as an extremist, uncompromising group, will suffer further from the lack of an agreement, and the Democrats will have the edge on the issue of spending and taxation when the new year begins, and after a short period of uncertainty, the tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people will be restored, while the tax increases for the top two percent will continue, and maybe go back to the $250,000 range, rather than the deal Obama was striking to make it $400,000.

The Republicans, with a reduced majority and fewer Tea Party members in January, will face the music that they have self destructed, and it is time to consider that we may be witnessing the death of the Republican Party as we once knew it, and that a new moderate, centrist party, a real competition to the Democrats, might emerge sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the Speakership office has suffered its greatest decline since the “Revolution of 1910” against Speker Joseph Cannon, which took away a lot of power from the Speaker’s office.

Boehner will NOT go down in history as an outstanding Speaker, such as Sam Rayburn or Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, but more like Joseph Martin or Jim Wright. And even Newt Gingrich, with all his faults, will rank higher in history than John Boehner!