Six Republican freshmen members of the House of Representatives promised their constituents on the campaign trail they’d vote against Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. Five of these freshmen broke their campaign promises and voted “yes” on Tuesday to elect Boehner to a third term as Speaker of the House.
Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL) was the only one of these six Republican freshmen who honored his campaign promise and voted against Boehner. Palmer cast his vote for Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Under the rules of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House is not required to be an elected member.
In addition to the six who promised their constituents they would vote against Boehner, incoming Republican freshman Alex Mooney (R-WV) broke a Madison Project Candidate Pledge he signed in December 2013 to vote against Boehner.
Also, Republican freshman Representative Mark Walker (R-NC) certainly left many of his constituents with the impression that he would vote against Boehner and for Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC). But, as his spokesperson told Breitbart News on Wednesday, Walker was careful to “contextualize” his comments about his willingness to stand up against Boehner when it was in the interest of his constituents. (See this clip of Walker’s “contextualizing” in a candidate debate beginning around the 41 minute mark.)
Heading the list of the fork-tongued freshman five is Representative Jody Hice (R-GA), a former evangelical radio talk show host. The Athens Banner-Herald reported that at a July 2014 debate with a primary opponent, “Hice said he would support ‘new leadership, and new leadership with a backbone,’ over Boehner.”
In November, the Daily Caller reported that Hice was one of three out of 247 in the House Republican Conference who opposed Boehner in a voice vote. But on Tuesday, Hice cast a “yes” vote for Boehner as Speaker. Hice released a statement justifying his vote on Tuesday. “[D]uring my campaign, I emphasized the need for strong conservative leadership in the House of Representatives,” Hice said.
“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,” Hice added. “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.”
Second on the list of the forked-tongue five is Republican freshman Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA). In November, Loudermilk joined Hice as one of the three members of the Republican Conference Committee to oppose Boehner’s re-election as Speaker.
Like West Virginia’s Mooney, Loudermilk signed the Madison Project’s Candidate Pledge to vote against Boehner for Speaker. Further, Dan McLagan, a spokeserson for Loudermilk, plainly told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in February: “He will not support Boehner as speaker.”
A spokesperson for Loudermilk now tells Breitbart News, “Barry Loudermilk said on the campaign trail that he felt like it was time for new leadership. He signed a pledge stating that he’d vote against John Boehner at the first reasonable opportunity, which he did at the Republican Conference Committee in November. Congressman Loudermilk was one of only three to vote against Boehner in that conference election.”
Third on the list of the forked-tongue freshman five is Republican freshman John Ratcliffe (R-TX). As The Hill reported in March 2014:
Ratcliffe says he’s “not a labels guy” when asked if he’s a Tea Party candidate but is positioning himself to the right of Hall. The challenger said that if elected, he’d vote for someone other than Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker.
“I would like to see better leadership at the top, so I would like to have some better choices,” said Ratcliffe. “There are other people I would support and think would be a better choice than John Boehner. A lot of our leadership, frankly, hasn’t served us well.”
Rick Allen (R-GA) is fourth on the list of the forked-tongue freshmen five.
In a primary debate, Allen stated “yes” when asked if he would vote for new leadership in the House.
A spokesperson for Allen tells Breitbart News, “Congressman Allen did not support Rep. Boehner in the election for Speaker held by the House Republican Conference in November, when Speaker Boehner ran unopposed and became House Republicans’ nominee. Congressman Allen voted for Speaker Boehner in the vote by the full House because Speaker Boehner was the only Republican candidate for the position who articulated a vision for how he would work to advance conservative solutions and achieve the priorities Congressman Allen’s constituents elected him to accomplish.”
The last of the forked-tongue freshmen five is newly-elected Republican Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who stated in an August 1 debate, “I would have no problem looking for an alternative to Speaker Boehner.”
“I have no problem standing up to Republican leadership,” Grothman said at the time.
But after he voted for Boehner on Tuesday, Grothman told WTAQ, “if the party wanted to replace [Speaker Boehner], the time for that should have been right after the November elections.”
Unlike Representatives Hice, Loudermilk, and Allen, Grothman did not vote against Boehner as speaker in November.
Representatives Hice, Loudermilk, and Allen have offered only carefully crafted explanations for their changes from “no” votes in November to “yes” votes in January. That’s especially puzzling since Speaker Boehner demonstrated his rejection of conservative principles with his support of 2015 funding for Obamacare and President Obama’s executive actions granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in the Cromnibus bill that passed a lame duck Congress in December, one month after their November votes and a month before their January votes.
Supporters of limited government, however, can rest easy that despite their votes to re-elect Speaker Boehner, the forked-tongue freshmen five and fellow Boehner supporters Mooney and Walker have announced they will vigorously monitor Speaker Boehner’s devotion to conservative principles.
On Tuesday, for instance, Representative Hice told his conservative constituents, “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.”
Representative Walker issued this statement justifying his vote for Speaker Boehner:
Shortly after being inaugurated as the new Congressman from North Carolina’s 6th District, Congressman Mark Walker voted to re-elect Speaker John Boehner.
This was a difficult vote as I share the frustrations expressed by many of my constituents, but I cast my vote today with a sense of optimism,” said Walker. “Today, the focus needs to be on Republicans re-taking the Senate and the American people’s rejection of President Obama’s go-it-alone style. As a Congress, we are ready to pass sound, pro-growth legislation – many bills with bipartisan support – that will help our struggling economy. A change in House leadership, at this time and in this way, would have detracted from our conservative message.
I plan to keep the Speaker, and the whole House leadership team, accountable – to encourage them to pass conservative legislation and not buckle under pressure from the White House or Senate. When I believe legislation is not in the best interests of the 6th District of North Carolina and the American people, I will have no problems voting against leadership.
Finally, with respect to the other candidates for Speaker, I do not believe they possess the record of leadership and accomplishment necessary to be Speaker of the House. I cannot just vote for the most conservative candidate when considering a position that is this important to the country. We need a statesman and a full-vetting process. The House Republican conference made their selection in November and a last minute attempt to disrupt the process with insufficiently vetted candidates and minimal resolution strategy is not an earnest effort to bring about true change.
Not to be outdone in expressing conservative principles, Representative Mooney issued this statement explaining his vote for Speaker Boehner:
I made a commitment to my district to consistently support conservative principles in office. That commitment includes the promise to buck leadership’s requests when West Virginia conservative principles call for it. While I take issue with many of Speaker Boehner’s actions in the past there was no alternative candidate with a reasonable chance of success. I have spent my first week in Congress fighting for conservative priorities including co-sponsoring legislation to Audit the Fed, to slash Obamacare at the knees and to pass the Keystone XL pipeline. There may be times I will disagree with some Republican leaders but right now I am focused on uniting the Republican Party to fight the President’s radical agenda and to pass true conservatives priorities.
Despite these self-serving rationalizations from a group of already-compromised newly-elected Republicans, one disturbing fact remains. Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL) is the only incoming Republican freshman member of the House of Representatives who honored his promise to vote against John Boehner as Speaker.