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U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield presided over the House of Representatives on Tuesday, hours before President Donald Trump addressed the nation about the need for a border wall.
Butterfield, the Wilson Democrat who was recently sworn in for his eighth term, served as speaker pro tempore, the individual who fills the role of the House speaker when Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is not present.
“Presiding over the House of Representatives is a great honor and privilege, and I thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the opportunity to take the gavel in the third day of the 116th Congress,” Butterfield said. “The American people voted for a Democratic majority in the U.S. House that will fight to make health care accessible, build an economy that works for everyone, and be a positive source for change in our country.”
When the House convened at 2 p.m. Butterfield’s first action, approving the journal of the last day’s proceedings, was immediately challenged by Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kansas, who called for a floor vote. When Butterfield declared the vote in favor of approval, Watkins objected because there wasn’t a quorum present. Butterfield postponed additional action and Watkins led the House in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Susan Cole, the House reading clerk, then reported that on Friday, Butterfield administered the oath of office to U.S. Rep. Walter Jones in Farmville, bringing the House’s total of sworn representatives to 434.
Representatives from Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts and a resident commissioner from Puerto Rico then delivered one-minute speeches before the House went into recess.
Butterfield represents the 1st Congressional District, which encompasses all or parts of 14 counties extended from Durham in the west to Washington in the east. The district includes parts of Greenville and northeastern Pitt County.
In December, Pelosi appointed Butterfield chief deputy whip.