WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner brushed aside a challenge to his tenure on Wednesday as the work of a lone dissident Republican amounting to "no big deal."
He said the effort by Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina to strip him of his powerful post "isn't even deserving of a vote."
Speaking at a news conference, Boehner said, "I've got broad support amongst my colleagues." He was elected to his most recent term as speaker in January over the opposition of Meadows and 24 other rank-and-file Republicans, the most to oppose a winning candidate of their own party in a century.
The Ohio Republican spoke one day after Meadows made his largely symbolic challenge, filing a formal proposal that — if approved — would force a new election by the entire House to pick a speaker. The proposal was referred to a committee stacked with Boehner's loyalists, and is unlikely to emerge.
Boehner is in his third term as speaker, a tumultuous tenure marked by challenges from tea party-aligned newcomers as well as a need to deal with President Barack Obama within divided government.
Meadows, who was disciplined earlier this year in a move backed by House leadership, said in his legislative proposal that Boehner "has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent."
Meadows told reporters on Tuesday that he hoped his action prompted a "discussion" with Boehner and other House leaders "about representing the American people. It's about fairness."
Meadows said he wants Boehner and other GOP leaders to make sure that "every voice and every vote is respected, and votes of conscience are respected and not punished."
Democrats seized on the unrest.
"As the American people look to Congress for solutions to the challenges they face, they increasingly see a Republican Congress dominated by obstruction, distraction and dysfunction," Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday. He added, "The American people deserve better."
The acrimony within the Republican Party has been on stark display in Congress. Last Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of lying about votes. And more Republican infighting broke out Monday night as an email from an aide to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, suggested that conservative groups should take Lee's fellow Republicans to task if they opposed him on a legislative maneuver to advance a repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law.
Lee's move angered Republicans, and Lee sought to contain the damage, telling colleagues in a closed-door meeting that he hadn't authorized the email.
The resolution Meadows filed accused the speaker of causing "the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People." And it said Boehner "uses the power of the office to punish members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the speaker."
Last month, in a move backed by leadership, Meadows was briefly stripped of his subcommittee chairmanship over his votes, but later relented after conservatives objected.
Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC. Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this story.