Updated 7:00 p.m. | After Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent bucked leadership and voted for a speaker whose last name was not “Boehner,” House leaders stripped the two Florida congressmen of their positions on the Rules Committee.
The roster for the Rules Committee, which is often referred to as “the speaker’s committee,” was approved Tuesday evening by unanimous consent after GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers made a motion on the floor. Missing from that roster were Webster and Nugent, both members of the panel in the 113th Congress. “My philosophy is don’t burn any bridges, don’t make it personal,” Webster told reporters Tuesday night after learning of the news. “But that’s not everybody’s philosophy.”
Webster said he was going to make the pitch to leadership to put Nugent back on the committee, as he felt Nugent voted for him out of some sort of Florida Republican loyalty. But, he did respect leadership’s decision.
“It’s not like it’s punishment being taken off the Rules Committee,” Webster said. “A lot of people would say it’s actually a relief.”
The Rules Committee was originally slated to have nine Republicans and four Democrats in the 114th Congress. However, after some last-minute changes, Webster and Nugent were left off, bringing the overall committee breakdown to seven Republicans and four Democrats.
Webster reported that he confronted Rules Chairman Pete Sessions during votes Tuesday night, and asked about the decision. It was actually during the time that McMorris Rodgers made the unanimous consent motion on the resolution functionally kicking Webster and Nugent off the committee that Sessions and Webster were talking.
Sessions, R-Texas, explained to reporters Tuesday evening that the Rules Committee was a place where “you really have to be in good shape to keep yourself free and clear so you make decisions for everybody.”
“The committee works at the behest of the speaker,” Sessions said, “and the speaker — I believe any speaker — would want and need a person focused on that agenda.”
Sessions continued that the Rules Committee was “not a self-serving committee.”
“We do things for the team,” he said.
Sessions said he didn’t know that Nugent and Webster planned to vote against Boehner earlier in the day. A staunch ally of leadership, Sessions suggested he stood by the decision to remove Nugent and Webster from the panel roster, but praised the two Florida congressmen both as “members [who] have represented … our conference well, and they are gonna be missed.”
Meanwhile, members were slowly learning of the news Tuesday night, and their reaction was mixed. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who also ran for speaker Tuesday, called it “a sad day for American politics” and “something I would assume Vladimir Putin would do.”
Yoho then stepped on an elevator with other members and began relaying the news about Webster and Nugent with, “Hey, welcome to the new USSR.”
Randy Weber, R-Texas, who also voted from someone other than Boehner during the speaker election, called it “part of the problem” and “the way the game’s played.”
But Weber wasn’t too afraid of facing retribution himself, past the retribution he already says he’s faced.
“I’m a big boy,” Weber said. “I’m able to stay up here and fight the good fight for my district, fight for what’s right for Texas.”
Webster unsuccessfully ran for speaker Tuesday, garnering 12 votes. His fellow Florida Republican, Nugent, voted for Webster.
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