While he initially supported Florida Congressman Daniel Webster, Steve Pearce ultimately voted for Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House on Thursday.
Ryan won the position, replacing John Boehner, who announced last month that he would be leaving Congress and relinquish the position as Speaker of the House.
Pearce explained his vote in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“As I’ve said often, every American deserves a government that is effective, efficient and accountable,” Pearce said. “Today’s election marks a transition. My hope is that it will be a turning point toward transparency and away from brinkmanship.”
All but nine Republicans voted for Ryan; the other nine voted for Webster. Nearly every Democrat voted for Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., including the two Democratic members of the House, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Pearce clashed with Boehner when the Ohio Republican was Speaker.
In 2012, Pearce voted for Eric Cantor for speaker instead of Boehner. He later described this as his most popular vote to the National Journal.
Boehner placed Pearce on the Republican whip team in the new term (Pearce voted for Boehner for Speaker in 2014). Pearce was removed from the whip team after voting against rules pushed by Republican leadership on a trade bill.
Pearce is a member of the House Freedom Caucus. The bloc of very conservative Republicans was instrumental in torpedoing the Speaker candidacy of Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The caucus supported Webster against McCarthy and had enough members willing to vote as a bloc to stop McCarthy from becoming Speaker.
Ryan had initially said he was unwilling to run for Speaker, preferring his spot as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. He had asked for the support of the three major Republican caucuses. He received the support of, reportedly, around 70 percent of the House Freedom Caucus. The secretive caucus requires support from 80 percent of the members to take an official position.
The House Republicans voted to put forth Ryan as their candidate on a 200-43 vote on Wednesday; the other 43 votes went to Webster.
Pearce said that he supported Webster in that secret ballot.
He noted that “34 of the 43 who voted for Mr. Webster yesterday, including myself, joined in supporting Mr. Ryan on the House Floor.”
Neither Luján nor Lujan Grisham issued statements on the Speaker vote.
In a fundraising email Luján, who is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, did criticize Ryan’s selection as Speaker.
“Halloween came early this year as House Republicans elected Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House earlier today,” Luján wrote.