Republican Greg Gianforte became Montana’s newest House member on Wednesday, just more than a week after pleading guilty to assaulting a reporter.  

House Republicans, some of whom had criticized Gianforte for the assault last month, welcomed him into their conference. 

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only Cheney at donor retreat says Trump's actions 'a line that cannot be crossed': report MORE (R-Wis.) embraced Gianforte in a ceremonial photo-op before delivering the oath of office on the House floor. And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) praised Gianforte as a "family man" and a "doer" in a floor speech, making no mention of the assault.

But Gianforte caused a stir within minutes after becoming the newest member of Congress.


In an acceptance speech on the House floor, Gianforte said he promised constituents he would work to “drain the swamp,” in an echo of a campaign message from President Trump.

Gianforte announced support for three bills that would establish term limits for members of Congress, prevent lawmakers from becoming lobbyists and suspend lawmaker pay if Congress doesn’t adopt a budget.

Someone booed on the Republican side of the House chamber, though it was unclear who made the sound. A GOP aide said it came from the chamber balcony, not from someone on the floor.

“We need to bring accountability to Washington, D.C.,” Gianforte said as lawmakers around him buzzed with surprise that a new member would announce such positions in their inaugural House floor speech.

Nine days earlier, Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault against Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian.

Gianforte was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling, along with a $385 fine.  

Gianforte had already pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists while issuing a full apology to Jacobs.

On the eve of the special election last month, Jacobs had been trying to ask Gianforte his opinion on the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House GOP’s bill to partially repeal and replace ObamaCare. 

Gianforte then "body-slammed" Jacobs, according to the reporter, breaking his glasses in the process. On a recording of the incident, Gianforte can be heard yelling “get the hell out of here!” 

A spokesman for Gianforte’s campaign initially issued a statement blaming the incident on ”aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.” 

But a day later, after winning the special election over Democrat Rob Quist, Gianforte apologized to Jacobs at his victory rally. 

Gianforte’s induction into the House came amid calls for more political civility after a gunman opened fire on GOP lawmakers practicing baseball last week. 

Indeed, a group of bipartisan lawmakers planned to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to promote a “Commitment to Civility” to treat each other with respect.

Gianforte appeared eager to put the incident behind him on Wednesday.

“We worked hard. And I was pleased to receive the confidence of the voters of Montana,” Gianforte said. 

And in his House floor speech, Gianforte noted his background as a businessman and electrical engineer.  

"I'm trained to solve hard problems. Not to argue about them. Just to get things done," Gianforte said. 

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) attended Gianforte’s swearing-in ceremony, but Montana’s other senator, Democrat Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterAmericans for Prosperity launches campaign targeting six Democrats to oppose ending filibuster Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform MORE, was absent. 

Gianforte will replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned from the House to become Interior secretary in the Trump administration.

Democrats in the House chamber didn’t make a show of rejecting Gianforte. They joined in clapping after Gianforte took the oath of office, albeit with less enthusiasm than their GOP counterparts.

The House Democratic campaign arm called for Gianforte’s resignation in a statement issued minutes after he was sworn into office.

“He has repeatedly declined to answer why his campaign falsely blamed Ben Jacobs for Gianforte assaulting him, and as a convicted criminal has no business representing Montana. He must resign,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Drew Godinich said. 

This story was updated at 7:13 p.m.