WASHINGTON — Before electing a replacement for House Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Illinois, gained the support of enough colleagues Saturday to force a meeting to “confront the underlying issues” that led to Boehner’s resignation.
Though Roskam wasn’t announcing a bid for a leadership spot, the move by the Wheaton lawmaker sets the stage for a possible run in the wake of the shuffle triggered by Boehner’s surprise announcement Friday he’ll leave Congress at the end of October.
Roskam’s logical targets are the No. 2 and No. 3 Republican leadership slots: majority leader and whip.
Roskam formerly held the post of chief deputy whip but lost an election last year to move up to whip.
Roskam started working early Saturday to secure the backing of at least 50 House Republicans — the number needed to trigger the meeting. By evening, he had more than enough, said his spokesman, Michael Shapiro.
“It’s clear our members believe that we need a plan, not a person, to heal the fractures within our majority,” Roskam said in a written statement. “I’m glad we’ll now have a chance for an open dialogue that will help us start to unify behind the conservative solutions the American people deserve.”
Working from Wheaton, Roskam was successful in mobilizing colleagues to sign a letter to Republican Conference chairman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, asking for the meeting.
“We need to take time to reflect on what has happened and have a serious discussion about why we’re here serving, what we expect of our leaders and how we plan to accomplish our goals,” Roskam wrote to his colleagues.
In the letter to Rodgers, Roskam said the huddle is needed to develop “the best strategy for moving forward with leadership elections,” noting that Boehner stepped down because of deep conflicts among Republican House members.
Boehner quit as the House tea party faction was threatening a government shutdown next month as part of a battle to defund Planned Parenthood.
David Monk, Roskam’s chief of staff,sent out a letter of his own Saturday, urging his counterparts to get their bosses to back Roskam’s call for a strategy meeting.
“This is not a contrived announcement of a leadership campaign, ” Monk wrote, “but instead a sincere attempt to prompt this conversation so we can guard against recurring issues leading to the same challenges that have led to this significant turn of events.”
Roskam was first elected to Congress in 2006 after serving in the Illinois House and Senate.