Spokesperson: Meadows expects no retribution
More than two-dozen Republicans threatened to unseat House Speaker John Boehner from his congressional post Tuesday, and U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows played his part.
Meadows, a Jackson County Republican, was sworn into his second term as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday, and he joined 24 other GOP congressmen in casting votes against Boehner—a coup attempt that has been described by the Washington Post as the biggest revolt against a speaker in 150 years.
Rather than backing Boehner, Meadows, who represents North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, which encompasses much of Western North Carolina, cast his vote for U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla.
The vote was in contrast to Meadows’ neighbor to the east, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, who supported Boehner and is a member of the House GOP leadership team. McHenry represents North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District, an area that includes portions of eastern Buncombe County along with Rutherford and Polk counties in Western North Carolina.
Boehner, who has served as speaker since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, won a majority 216 votes of 408 cast and will serve another two years at the helm of GOP leadership.
The position allows him to continue exercising strong influence over House procedures, including highly sought after top slots on various committees. Already, Boehner has exercised that authority by removing two Republicans who led the charge against him from their prominent committee posts.
Meadows, who announced his appointment as chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform less than one month ago, indicated no remorse at bucking Boehner, whom he supported for speaker as a freshman in 2013.
Alyssa Farah, a spokesman for Meadows, said the congressman cast his vote “after hearing from the people of Western North Carolina with a desire to change the status quo,” and added that Meadows did not expect to be punished for his opposition.
“The congressman respects Speaker Boehner and believes he is a man of integrity, and because of that he doesn’t expect to be penalized for his vote,” Farah said, in an emailed statement.
The congressman, who also accepted a $5,000 contribution from Boehner’s campaign committee in the most recent cycle, was quoted by a Washington, D.C., radio correspondent as saying he would be “surprised” at receiving retribution from the speaker.
Still, Meadows’ vote could potentially put his newfound clout in jeopardy. Chris Cooper, a professor of political science and public affairs at Western Carolina University, expressed surprise to see the congressman’s support of Webster, considering how Webster’s record and scores from conservative groups often aligned with Boehner’s.
“It’s a little surprising to see Meadows step away from the Republican establishment that much,” Cooper said, in an interview with Carolina Public Press. “He’s been able to move up the ladder quickly since he’s been in Congress, and so it’s a bit surprising to see him join roughly two-dozen members of Congress in voting against the speaker.”
Along with the House Committee for Oversight and Government Reform, Meadows serves on the committees for Transportation, Infrastructure and Foreign Affairs.
Late Wednesday, a Politico report suggested Meadows would keep his subcommittee post. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House Committee on Government on Oversight and Government Reform, was quoted saying he thought Meadows would be “fine” when the dust settled.
“[Meadows] earned that spot in many ways,” Chaffetz was quoted saying. “I don’t think there should be a litmus test to his participation as a subcommittee chairman on Oversight. That’s far different than some of the other situations.”
Meadows’ vote differed from the one cast by neighbor McHenry.
McHenry, who was appointed to the leadership position of chief deputy whip to the House Republican Conference last summer, expressed support for Boehner and praised his work.
“Over the past few days I have heard from a number of constituents who have grown frustrated by Speaker Boehner’s leadership and insist change is necessary,” McHenry said, in a Facebook post. “While I understand some of your frustrations, it is important to remember Speaker Boehner was the unanimous choice of the House Republican Conference when he ran unchallenged for the position in November. Those who wished to oppose the speaker should have done so then, not today on the House floor as the 114th Congress begins.”
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, who represents a portion of Western North Carolina in the 5th Congressional District, also voted in support of Boehner.
With regard to the new session, both Meadows and McHenry expressed optimism to be moving into a new term with a Republican controlled Senate.
Speaking for Meadows, Farah said he was “confident” the 114th Congress would be productive.
McHenry added his thought that it was time for Republicans in both chambers to “work together,” and took aim at President Barack Obama’s policy actions relating to healthcare and immigration.
“This will be the first time President Obama has faced Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and it is imperative we stand together united in support of conservative, pro-growth polices,” McHenry said.