John Boehner was re-elected House speaker this afternoon, as reports of a coup turned out to be wildly overstated — though several Republicans did publicly signal their disapproval.
One of them was U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens. Broun voted for former Rep. Allen West for speaker – even though the Florida firebrand served just one term in Congress and lost a re-election bid in November.
Georgia’s Republican House members all lined up against Boehner on the fiscal cliff deal Tuesday night, but all except Broun backed him Thursday – including newcomer Doug Collins from Gainesville.
Broun explained himself this way:
“After careful consideration, I opted to cast my vote for a new Speaker of the House. Speaker Boehner is a good man and a good friend, but under his leadership, this Congress has failed to address the root of our nation’s fiscal crisis — the out-of-control spending in Washington. My hope was that we could elect a new speaker, so the 113th Congress would be forced to get serious about cutting spending and restoring prosperity to the American economy and people.”
Consider this to be more evidence that the Athens congressman is seriously considering a 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
A total of 12 Republicans voted against Boehner, with choices that included retired Gen. Colin Powell – one does not have to be a member of Congress to be speaker – and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (who himself voted for Boehner). Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert joined Broun in voting for West, who is originally from Atlanta. Gohmert has a noted fondness for ex-Georgians: During the closed-door speaker vote in November, Gohmert nominated Newt Gingrich.
On the Democratic side a few Blue Dog members chose not to back Nancy Pelosi, including Rep. John Barrow of Augusta. He voted – for the second Congress in a row – for Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta. (Lewis, whose wife died Monday, was not present.)
Here’s what Barrow told me in October about his speakership vote:
“I have had a parting of the ways with former Speaker Pelosi, Leader Pelosi, over the way she guided the caucus in the [111th] Congress,” Barrow said. “I voted against her twice, first in a secret ballot in caucus and second in a public vote on the floor of the House casting a vote against her for Speaker. That is not going to change.”
- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider