- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Republicans in the House of Representatives have become “deeply divided” over floor leadership and the direction as a caucus, according to a north Alabama legislator who sought a “no confidence” vote on the House majority leader.

“There is an absolute chasm inside the Republican caucus right now,” said Rep. Ed Henry, R- Hartselle.

The caucus took a confidence vote Wednesday on longtime Majority Leader Micky Hammon. Henry, who resigned as vice chairman of the caucus, says Hammon narrowly held on to his position by a one vote provided by absentee ballot, although other Republicans said the vote margin was kept confidential and not announced to members.

Henry says Hammon has not been available to members, offered a “water-down” legislative agenda and ethical concerns exist about his leadership.

“Going forward, there is a desire from within from the members to form a true conservative caucus. The next several days are going to determine if there is a true fracture inside the Republican caucus,” Henry said.

Several other Republican lawmakers, including Speaker Mac McCutcheon, declined to talk about the vote, citing the tradition of keeping caucus discussions private.

Hammon declined to talk about the vote and criticisms Thursday, but issued a statement later in the day.

“I will say that even after Rep. Henry raised his concerns with the Caucus, I remain Majority Leader with the support of my Republican colleagues. ….. Though it is often difficult to lead 72 Republican House members with varying personalities and opinions, I look forward to continuing as Majority Leader as we work to reform government, recruit jobs, and improve education while using conservative beliefs and values as our guide,” Hammon said.

The 72 Republicans hold a lopsided majority in the 105-member Alabama House of Representatives with the power to easily control the flow of legislation.

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