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John Andrew Boehner ( , ; born November 17, 1949) is a conservative Republican American politician who is currently serving as the House Minority Leader in the 111th Congress. He serves as a U.S. Representative from , which includes several rural and suburban areas near Cincinnatimarker and Daytonmarker and a small portion of Dayton itself.

Background and personal life

John Boehner was born in Cincinnati to Mary Anne (Hall) and Earl Henry Boehner as one of 12 brothers and sisters. He has lived in Southwest Ohio his entire life. He graduated from Cincinnati's Moeller High Schoolmarker in 1968, when US involvement in the Vietnam War was at its peak. Boehner enlisted in the United States Navy, but was honorably discharged after eight weeks for medical reasons (bad back). He earned his bachelor's degree in business from Xavier University in Cincinnatimarker in 1977. He subsequently accepted a position with Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry, where he eventually became president of the firm.

Family

He and his wife Debbie have been married since 1973. They live in the Wetheringtonmarker section of West Chester Townshipmarker. They have two daughters, Lindsay and Tricia.

Political career

In 1981 Boehner served on the board of trustees of Union Township, Butler County, Ohiomarker. Boehner then served as an Ohio state representative from 1985 to 1990.

Gang of Seven

In 1990, Boehner was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 102nd Congress. 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.

Name pronunciation

During his run for the U.S. House of Representatives, his campaign collateral read; "John Boehner (say-BO-NER)". During most of his life and political career his last name has been improperly pronounced. His campaign managers sought to correct this common mis-pronunciation of his name by using phonetics on his campaign material.

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. There he championed the Freedom to Farm Act and a series of balanced budgets that, when Bill Clinton was president, helped lead to the first federal surplus in a generation.

Following the election of President George W. Bush, Boehner was chosen by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee from 2001 until 2006. There he authored several landmark reforms including the Pension Protection Act and a successful school choice program for low-income children in Washington, DC. He was also a major force to the passage of No Child Left Behind, saying it was his “proudestachievement” in two decades of congressional service.

Congressional leadership

Boehner was elected by his colleagues to serve as House Majority Leader on February 2, 2006, after one of the most open and public House leadership races in American political history. 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 Missourimarker and Representative John Shadegg of Arizonamarker, even though he was considered an underdog candidate to Blunt. In the second round of voting by the House Republican Conference, Boehner received 122 votes compared to 109 for Blunt. 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. The first count showed one more vote cast than Republicans present, which turned out to be due to a misunderstanding as to whether the rules allowed Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico to vote or not.

After the Republicans lost control of the House in the 2006 elections, Boehner was elected House Minority Leader by the Republican Conference. As House Majority Leader, he was second-in-command in the House Republican Conference behind Speaker Dennis Hastert, but in his current position as Minority Leader he is the highest ranking Republican in the House. According to the 2008 Congress.org Power Ranking, Minority Leader Boehner is the 6th most powerful congressman (preceded by Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, Dean of the House John Dingell, and Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, all Democrats) and the most powerful Republican. As Minority Leader, Boehner serves as an ex officio member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Congressional record

John Boehner playing golf, 2009
A profile in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said, "On both sides of the aisle, Boehner earns praise for candor and an ability to listen." And the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Boehner "has perfected the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable."

John Boehner has been classified as a "hard-core conservative" by OnTheIssues. Although Boehner has a strong reputation and 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.

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 [sic] 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."

On October 3, 2008 Rep. Boehner voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program believing that the enumerated powers grant congress the authority to "purchase assets and equity from financial institutions in order to strengthen its financial sector."

Boehner has been highly critical of several recent initiatives by the Democratic Congress and President Obama, including the "cap and trade" plan that Boehner says would hurt job growth in his congressional district and elsewhere. He also led an opposition to the trillion-dollar stimulus and to the President's budget proposal, promoting instead an alternative economic recovery plan and a Republican budget (authored by Ranking Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.). He has advocated for an across-the-board spending freeze, including entitlements.

Political controversies

Connections to lobbyists

In June 1995, Boehner provoked contentions of unethical conduct when he distributed campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists on the House floor as House members were weighing how to vote on tobacco subsidies. Boehner eventually led the effort to change House rules and prohibit campaign contributions from being distributed on the House floor.

Boehner's PAC raised $31,500 from four Indian tribes who at one time were loosely associated with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was the central figure in a lobbying scandal. Boehner had no connection to Abramoff, and both he and spokesmen for the Indian tribes asserted that the contributions were not related to Abramoff's lobbying.

In October 2004, Rose DiNapoli, a lobbyist for student loan giant Sallie Mae, held a fundraiser in her Arlington, Va., home for Boehner. At the dinner, 34 Sallie Mae executives — including more than half the senior management team — wrote checks for Boehner's political action committee. In December 2005, Boehner told non-profit lenders that he thought they would be happy with the final results of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. "Know that I have all of you in my two trusted hands," he said, "I've got enough rabbits up my sleeve to be able to get where we need to." Boehner championed a bill making steep cuts to for-profit lender subsidies in an effort to save more than $13 billion in the Deficit Reduction Act, though the final package "soften[ed] [proposed] cuts to lenders" and "deal[t] a serious blow to the competing direct-loan program." The direct-loan program gives students access to loans from taxpayers, instead of through private lenders and banks. Supporters of Direct Loans suggest "direct-lending program costs taxpayers much less than extending loans through lenders like Sallie Mae. But the Direct Loan "program has not provided savings and is paying out more in interest payments — calculated at about $16.5 billion — than it has received from borrowers since its inception."

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.

Apartment rental

Boehner rents a two-bedroom Capitol Hill apartment for $1600 a month. The apartment building is owned by a Washington lobbyist. Boehner does not deny his close ties to "K Street" lobbyists and says that his relationships are ethical.

2006 Mark Foley scandal

Boehner told The Washington Post that he knew of "contact" between Foley and Congressional pages in the spring, but was unaware of their nature or content. Boehner maintains that he believes he informed Speaker Dennis Hastert, and that Hastert assured him it had been "taken care of." Boehner says that he was unaware of Foley's e-mails and instant messages until the messages were released to ABC News and other sources.

McDermott lawsuit

Boehner was involved in a lawsuit, first filed in 1998, against fellow Congressman Jim McDermott of Washingtonmarker. Boehner v. McDermott centered on the release by McDermott to the media of a taped conference call between Boehner, Newt Gingrich, and other Republican Congressional leaders that had been illegally recorded through a radio scanner and given to McDermott by a Florida couple. The call was a discussion of strategy over an investigation of Gingrich by the House Ethics Committee. Gingrich had publicly pledged not to organize opposition to the probe. The Florida couple were later fined $500 for violating the federal wiretapping law. McDermott was ordered to pay $60,000 to Boehner in addition to attorney fees and costs, which may amount to $500,000 based on his violation of House Ethics rules.

Public option

Boeher claimed in October 2009 to have never met an American citizen outside of U.S. Congress and Obama administration officials who supported the public health insurance option being in the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. In response the Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced $10,000 in online advertising targeting Boehner, a campaign asking folks to "invite" Boehner to meet with constituent who favor the public option, and a video by a constituent who'd like to meet him.

Re-election campaigns

In the November 2006 election, Boehner easily defeated the Democratic Party candidate, U.S. Air Force veteran Mort Meier, 64% to 36%. In the November 2008 election, Boehner defeated Nicholas Von Stein, 67.9% to 32.1%.

See also



Footnotes



References

  • 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.


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