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Post-Boehner: Congress Flouts Decorum During Speaker Vote

Ryan is the new speaker of the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Ryan is the new speaker of the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress couldn’t resist hamming it up during Thursday’s roll call vote for speaker.  

“California Cheeseheads for Paul Ryan,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., said when his turn came, causing some giggles. “Paul Davis Ryan,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., sporting a smirk.  

Most of the drama in the speaker election revolved around the 10 Republicans who said Rep. Daniel Webster’s name, but there were plenty of theatrics at play.  

The longest monologue came from Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who got in a lengthy line about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s grandparents being born in his Rhode Island District, before casting his vote for the California Democrat.  

“While I love the name ‘Ryan,'” prefaced Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, “I vote for [Nancy] Pelosi.”  

Pelosi defectors included Democrats Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Gwen Graham of Florida, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Cooper voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Graham voted for Cooper; and Sinema picked Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (All three cast the same votes in January, at the dawn of the 114th Congress.)  

“Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi,” a few Democrats proclaimed, annunciating every syllable to Pelosi’s apparent delight.  

Keeping score was House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, who helped shape Boehner’s legacy on the institution. The Michigan Republican told HOH she was excited to participate in Thursday’s events, serving as one of four “tellers,” or members who keep track of the votes for speaker.  

The other tellers included Reps. Robert A. Brady, D-Pa.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. Miller said they would compare results and report them to the House clerk, and they could keep a copy of the pencil-scratched sheet afterwards.  

“It’s a bit of history,” Miller said. “It’s obviously sort of an antiquated system. I’m sure someone’s keeping [track] electronically as well,” she added with a laugh.  

Snubbing the official tally, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., appeared to be keeping track of the votes themselves.  

The man who abruptly pulled out of the speaker’s race on Oct. 8, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., showed no sign of regret. He sat next to Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., smiling and applauding.  

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., followed her vote for Ryan with a low-five to Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, who was seated to her right.  

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, declared his vote for “Stan Ryan’s little brother, Paul Ryan,” after which big brother Dan waved from the gallery. Ratcliffe went to Notre Dame undergrad with Stan and another Ryan brother, Tobin.  

“I wanted to give the Ryan family something to talk about for a while” Ratcliffe later told HOH when asked about the shoutout.  

With decorum stickler John A. Boehner’s resignation letters signed and sealed, many members openly flouted the rules. Rep. Ryan A. Costello, R-Pa., tweeted a photo of the well.  

Scalise and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer, R-Ind., later whipped out their phones to photograph Ryan grabbing the gavel.  

Democrat Ron Kind yelled, “Go Badgers!” as Pelosi pointed out that Ryan is the first speaker from Wisconsin.  

But not everyone was having fun.  

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., read the newspaper as the vote continued and a number of other members were scrolling through their phones on their laps.  

Correction 5:56 p.m. A previous version of this article misstated Paul Ryan’s younger brother’s name.  

Correction 9:32 a.m. Friday A previous version of this article misidentified one of the members tasked with keeping track of speaker votes.  

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