A group of dissident Republicans failed on Thursday to push Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to a second ballot in his election as Speaker and potentially replace him as leader of the House.

Twelve House Republicans broke from Boehner in a tense public roll call vote, either by voting for someone else or deliberately not voting at all. That was five short of what would have been needed to force a second ballot.

The defections came at a tumultuous moment for Boehner, who faced sharp criticism from some within his conference and conservatives outside Congress both for his handling of the final fiscal cliff legislation and for scrapping a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.

One of the twelve Republican defectors, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), said it was Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican just elected to his second term, who tried in recent days to organize what amounted to an attempted coup. Amash and Jones were among the four Republicans kicked off their committees by GOP leaders after the November elections.