June 16, 2015

Pearce kicked off GOP whip team

Congressman Steve Pearce speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Rep. Steve Pearce was kicked off the whip team of the Republican caucus following votes on rules for a trade proposal last week.

Congressman Steve Pearce speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Congressman Steve Pearce speaking at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Pearce, the lone Republican member of New Mexico’s delegation, voted against rules that House leadership pushed and he so he was punished by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

The National Journal reported on Pearce’s removal form the team:

Reps. Cynthia Lummis, Steve Pearce and Trent Franks have been removed from the whip team after they sided with GOP rebels to vote against a rule governing debate on a trade bill, according to sources close to the team.

Lummis, a deputy whip and a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was perhaps the whip team’s highest-ranking bridge to the conference’s most intransigent members. Pearce and Franks are also very close to House conservatives.

The rule that Pearce voted against was one that brought up a trade package, which Pearce opposed, up for a vote on the House floor.

The Hill had more details on why Pearce and the other two were removed from the whip team:

Scalise’s decision was based on longstanding whip team rules that stated members must “vote as a team on procedural matters” but are free to vote against leadership on underlying legislation, the source said.

New Mexico Political Report reached out to a spokesman for Pearce for a reaction on Tuesday morning but received no response.

Update: Pearce’s office did not respond to New Mexico Political Report, but Pearce did speak to the National Journal.

Pearce, for his part, said: “Not much has changed in the House. I came here to represent the people of the 2nd Congressional District of New Mexico. That means considering each vote on its merits and striving to do the right thing for them. Sometimes that demands casting hard votes, as I did last week. I always strive to vote on principle and that won’t change.”

This post continues as originally written below.

The dispute that led to Pearce and others’ votes against the rules, according to National Journal, came because Boehner was negotiating with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., instead of conservatives on legislation related to trade.

Again, the National Journal:

But conservative members are still fuming that Boehner negotiated with Pelosi rather than acquiescing to demands from the Freedom Caucus, who wanted some assurances on the trade-bill process and others relating to an upcoming vote on the Export-Import Bank in exchange for their votes on Trade Promotion Authority.

The southern New Mexico congressman has had clashes with Republican leadership in the past. In 2013, Pearce did not vote for John Boehner, R-Ohio, for Speaker of the House. Instead, he voted for Eric Cantor, R-Va., who was Majority Whip before losing in a shock primary in 2014.

Pearce later called it his most popular vote ever.

In 2015, Pearce did vote for Boehner for Speaker of the House. Two members who voted against Boehner were removed from the highly influential House Rules Committee, a sign that those who bucked the leadership would face consequences.

In 2010, Slate described the role of a “whip team.”

If the vote is close, the whip moves to the second stage, in which members of the “whip team”—there are nine deputy whips in the House and 11 in the Senate—approach the fence-sitters and hear out their concerns. If a concern can be easily addressed, it gets fixed. If not, the deputy whip (or a committee chairman, or the party leader herself) can offer to help an ambivalent lawmaker on another bill in exchange for his or her vote on the bill at hand.

The third and final whip usually occurs the day before a vote, when whip team members approach their designated members—in the Senate, for example, each team member is assigned two or three senators they know well—and report the final tally.

Pearce will not have to worry about counting votes any more.


  • Matthew Reichbach

    Matthew Reichbach is the editor of the NM Political Report. The founder and editor of the NM Telegram, Matthew also a co-founded New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and one of the original hires at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation and formerly published, “The Morning Word,” a daily political news summary for NM Telegram and the Santa Fe Reporter.