WASHINGTON -- John Boehner was re-elected Speaker of the House on Tuesday with about two dozen members of his own party dissenting -- but none from Georgia.
New Republican Reps. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville and Jody Hice of Monroe campaigned on bringing new leadership to the House and leveled voice votes against Boehner in a closed-door November vote. But before a packed House chamber crowd and CSPAN viewers, they voted for Boehner.
The Speaker vote was the first vote of the 114th Congress.
GOP protest votes against Boehner were scattered among members such as Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; and Daniel Webster, R-Fla. It would have taken about 10 more dissenters to force a chaotic second ballot for Speaker, though Boehner never has faced a serious rival for the gavel.
Conservative groups worked to flood Georgia's members of Congress with calls and social media messages urging them to "fire Boehner" for various sins against conservative priorities, but they all stuck with the Speaker.
Cue tea party backlash -- particularly for Hice and Loudermilk.
Two years ago, then-Rep. Paul Broun caused a stir by voting for former Rep. Allen West for Speaker. But Hice has been sending signals that he is taking a somewhat different path than his predecessor. Hice has been working to forge better ties with the University of Georgia and hired key veteran staff from departing Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston.
Georgia's four House Democrats all voted for Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker who will remain as Minority Leader.
Nearly all the Democrats voted for Pelosi, though there were a few protest votes. Among them was Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who voted for Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta. Lewis -- a pal of Pelosi -- looked surprised.
UPDATE 3:20 p.m.
In an interview next to the House floor, Loudermilk acknowledged the frustration among his constituents about Boehner but said once the conference approved Boehner behind closed doors -- over his objections -- it was time to unify. He also implied that the insurrectionists today were just looking for attention.
"I did [vote against Boehner]. When the vote counted which was in conference when we were electing who our nominee to go to the floor was. That was the time for that to happen, not when the cameras have to be out and everybody can make a show.
"That was the time to get the work done. I went out on the edge and was one of the few to stand up and say we need new leadership. And I did that. But the conference determined that that was who we were going to send. So I voted against John Boehner for speaker, and he was our nominee going to the floor. And now is the time to unify and go forward. I stand with those folks that are saying that becasue I do think we need new leadership and now is the time to move forward."
Loudermilk said the Georgia GOP delegation met to figure out how everyone was going to vote but there was "no pressure" from other members to be unanimous.
In a prepared statement, Hice said he used the leverage of his speaker vote to get "assurances" for leadership to fight for certain conservative priorities. Here are his thoughts in full:
“I am an unabashed and unapologetic conservative who believes that our Leadership in the House of Representatives should be principled and conservative. And during my campaign, I emphasized the need for strong conservative leadership in the House of Representatives.
"That is precisely why when the Republican Conference met in November to elect our Leadership for the 114th Congress, I voted against nominating John Boehner to be the Republican nominee for Speaker. I was one of three out of 247 members of the Republican Conference to do so. I felt extremely disappointed that many of my conservative colleagues did not join with me in what was our only opportunity to nominate a conservative to represent us on the Floor in January — who could then marshal 218 votes against Nancy Pelosi.
"Instead, a challenge did not occur until 2 days before the election of the next Speaker of the House when gaining 218 votes was not possible. I truly regret that a proper campaign was not waged, with the issues fully debated, that would have allowed a conservative to prevail in November, yet I huddled with fellow conservatives up until 10 minutes before the House was called to order.
"Without a pathway to victory, I used what leverage I had to convey my principles directly to the Speaker while receiving his assurance that he would use the strength of our Majority to advance conservative solutions. I also received assurances from other conservative Members I was engaging with that if the Speaker does not fight with us, that they would join me in replacing him this Congress.
"Indeed, today is not the final verdict on the Speaker’s leadership or even a vote of confidence. If he does not deliver on his pledge to lead as a conservative, we will displace him.
"Now, I look forward to introducing legislation to address our illegal immigration problem, protect our 2nd amendment rights, and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies. I also look forward later this week to voting to put our nation’s veterans back to work, taking real steps toward real American energy independence, and striking a blow to the heart of Obamacare.”
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