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Gary Palmer (politician)

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Gary Palmer
Official portrait, 2018
Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
LeaderKevin McCarthy
Mike Johnson
Preceded byLuke Messer[1]
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded bySpencer Bachus
Personal details
Gary James Palmer

(1954-05-14) May 14, 1954 (age 70)
Hackleburg, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseAnn Cushing
EducationUniversity of Alabama (BS)
WebsiteHouse website
Party website

Gary James Palmer (born May 14, 1954) is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative for Alabama's 6th congressional district since 2015. His district includes the wealthier parts of Birmingham, as well as most of its suburbs. Before becoming an elected official, Palmer co-founded and served as the longtime president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.[2]

A member of the House Freedom Caucus,[3] Palmer has chaired the Republican Policy Committee since 2019, making him the 5th highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.[4]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Palmer was born in Hackleburg, Alabama. His family lived on a 40-acre farm, where Palmer helped maintain the family garden and animals.[5]

Palmer has a bachelor's degree in operations management from the University of Alabama.[6] He was the first member of his family to earn a college degree.[5] He was a walk-on wide receiver for the Crimson Tide and played under Bear Bryant.[7] In 1989, Palmer co-founded the Alabama Family Alliance, which later became the Alabama Policy Institute. He served as its president for 25 years, stepping down in 2014 to run for Congress.[8] Palmer helped found the State Policy Network, a nonprofit umbrella organization for conservative and libertarian think tanks that focus on state-level policy, and served as its president.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Palmer declared his candidacy for the 6th district following the retirement announcement of 11-term incumbent Spencer Bachus.[6] In a crowded seven-way Republican primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district—Palmer finished second behind state representative Paul DeMarco. In the ensuing runoff election, Palmer picked up the support of the Club for Growth.[10] Despite outspending Palmer, DeMarco lost momentum after a botched debate with Palmer and never recovered. By election day, polls suggested Palmer would win the nomination by 30 points. Palmer won the runoff, 64% to 36%.[11] In the general election, he defeated Democratic nominee Mark Lester, a history professor at Birmingham-Southern College, 76% to 24%,[12] but he had effectively clinched a seat in Congress with his primary victory. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+28, the 6th was tied with the neighboring 4th as Alabama's most Republican district.

Palmer has been reelected three times with only nominal opposition, running unopposed in 2020. He has only dropped below 70% once. In 2018, Democrat Danner Kline held him to 69.2%. Kline received 30.8% of the vote, the best showing for a Democrat in almost a quarter-century. It is the only time since the GOP began its current run in the seat in 1993 that a Democrat has managed 30% of the vote.


Palmer ran for reelection to the House in the general election on November 8, 2022. Unchallenged in the Republican primary and with no Democratic candidates qualified to run in this district, Palmer was initially left unopposed. However, the Libertarian Party qualified for ballot access in May 2022, giving Palmer a general-election opponent, Amazon supervisor Andria Chieffo. Palmer defeated Chieffo in the general election with 83.7% of the vote to Chieffo's 15.1%.[13]


Gary Palmer's swearing in for his second term in office in 2017.

Palmer took office on January 3, 2015, along with the other freshmen members of the 114th Congress.

Palmer voted against the American Rescue Plan, an economic recovery and COVID-19 relief bill, in February 2021. His rationale for opposing the bill was that it was "not about COVID relief, but about the Democrat agenda", and a "repeat of the failed stimulus bill passed in 2009 under President Obama and then Vice President Biden."[14]

In November 2021, Palmer touted funding for the Birmingham Northern Beltline that he added to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But he voted against the final bill and did not mention his vote in a Twitter post celebrating the funding. Democratic figures including Alabama Democratic Party chair Christopher J. England, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, and U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell criticized Palmer's comments as hypocritical. A spokesperson for Palmer defended the Twitter post, saying, "it should not be surprising that he supports a provision that he authored".[15]

As of October 2021, Palmer had voted in line with President Joe Biden's stated position 7.5% of the time.[16]

Bloomberg Government has called Palmer a "quiet lawmaker" who nonetheless fulfills an important role in shaping the House Republican agenda as chair of the Republican Policy Committee. In response to Democratic critiques that Republicans lack a policy agenda, Palmer has said he takes a more "proactive" strategy to crafting policy, rather than a "combative" style. As chair of the committee, Palmer compiled a 200-page "Guide to the Issues" for Republican representatives and frequently distributes information on policy to fellow legislators.[17]

In February 2023, CoinDesk reported that Palmer was one of three members of Alabama's congressional delegation who received money from FTX, the defunct cryptocurrency exchange, alongside Robert Aderholt and Katie Britt. Palmer's office did not respond to a CoinDesk inquiry about what had been done with the funds.[18]

In the October 2023 Speaker of the United States House of Representatives election, Palmer was briefly a candidate for Speaker of the House in the third nomination cycle.[19] The New York Times described him as a candidate who could present himself as a unifying force between the battling factions of the Republican Party.[4] He dropped out of the race for Speaker prior to an internal caucus forum.[20][21]

Committee assignments[edit]

For the 118th Congress:[22]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

As of 2020, Palmer has a 92% rating for supporting conservative causes, according to Heritage Action.[25] The American Conservative Union's center for legislative accountability gave him a 97% lifetime conservative rating[26] and the progressive PAC Americans for Democratic Action gave him a 0% liberal quotient in 2019.[27]


Palmer opposes legal abortion.[28] Palmer supported the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade.[29]


Palmer voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[30] He said the bill would "put more money in the pockets of the American people" and "launch economic growth." He blamed the Obama administration and a "burdensome tax code that was designed for a 1986 economy" for an "anemic" economy.[31]

Palmer was among the 71 Republicans who voted against final passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 in the House.[32] He was also one of three members of Alabama's House delegation to vote against the bill, the others being Barry Moore and Dale Strong.[33]

LGBTQ rights[edit]

Palmer has stated that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice is something "no reasonable person" would allow and said that "the safety implications for sexual predation have been well documented."[34] He opposes same-sex marriage, saying, "No one can change the fundamental nature of what marriage is: the union of a man and a woman and the formation of a family which is the foundation of every civilization."[35]


During the COVID-19 crisis, Palmer opposed proxy voting while Congress was unable to work onsite at the Capitol due to shelter-in-place orders.[36]


Palmer voted to support medical marijuana research but opposes legalizing marijuana.[28]

Gun law[edit]

Palmer supports gun rights. He opposes what he deems unconstitutional gun restrictions. He supports efforts that enable legal gun owners to carry their guns, including concealed carry, over state lines.[37]

Health care[edit]

Palmer opposes the Affordable Care Act, calling it "a nightmare" and "job-killing." He supports efforts to repeal it.[38]

Homeland security[edit]

Palmer is pro-nuclear weapons. He supports increasing funding for the Defense Department specifically around work in the Middle East.[39]


Palmer opposes illegal immigration to the United States, including allowing undocumented workers to work in the U.S. He supports efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.[40]

Term limits[edit]

After his election in 2014, Palmer signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge, agreeing to sponsor legislation enacting term limits for U.S. representatives and senators.[41] He also said he would serve no more than five terms in office.[42] In September 2021, the U.S. Term Limits group accused Palmer of refusing to cosponsor a term limits amendment, alleging that he had broken the pledge. The group purchased billboards in Alabama's 6th congressional district attacking Palmer. Palmer's reelection campaign responded by calling the accusation "fake news", saying that the pledge only applied to the 114th United States Congress and that Palmer cosponsored the amendment for three consecutive terms.[43] Palmer's five-term limit meant that the 2022 elections would be his last. But in March 2022, he said he made the pledge before becoming a part of Republican leadership in Congress and that he was also taking high turnover in Alabama's congressional delegation into consideration, indicating that he would likely run for reelection in 2024 to maintain senior leadership from Alabama, despite the commitment.[17]

In March 2023, Palmer officially announced his 2024 reelection campaign, saying that he "prayed for God to give me clarity on" his decision to run for a sixth term.[44] He disputed media reports (including an article by AL.com) that characterized his five-term limit as part of the U.S. Term Limits pledge, saying the pledge only applied to sponsoring legislation. But Palmer acknowledged that he did claim during his 2014 campaign that he would serve no more than five terms, and said he would "own that".[41]

2020 presidential election[edit]

Palmer was at the Capitol to certify the 2020 presidential election results on January 6, 2021, when the attack on the Capitol took place. During the attack, Palmer tweeted that it was a "sad day" and that "the scenes we witnessed today were unacceptable".[45] After the attack, Palmer voted against certifying the election, objecting to Arizona's and Pennsylvania's electoral votes.[46][47] On January 13, Palmer blamed Donald Trump for "sending" the attackers to the Capitol.[48] He voted against impeaching Trump a second time, calling the second impeachment a Democratic "abuse of power" and a "sham process."[49]

In December 2020, Palmer was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden defeated[50] Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of an election held by another state.[51][52][53]

Electoral history[edit]

Electoral history of Gary Palmer
Year Office Party Primary General Result Swing Ref.
Total % P. Runoff % P. Total % P.
2014 U.S. Representative Republican 18,655 19.73% 2nd 47,524 63.49 1st 135,945 76.18% 1st Won Hold [54]
2016 Republican Does not appear 245,313 74.52% 1st Won Hold [55]
2018 Republican Does not appear 192,542 69.18% 1st Won Hold [56]
2020 Republican Does not appear 274,160 97.13% 1st Won Hold [57]
2022 Republican Does not appear 154,233 83.73% 1st Won Hold [58]

Personal life[edit]

Palmer is married to Ann Cushing Palmer.[59] They have three children.[60]

When working in Washington, D.C., Palmer sleeps at his office on Capitol Hill.[59]

Palmer is a longtime member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.[61]


  1. ^ "Rep. Messer reelected to Chair Republican Policy Committee". Republican Policy Committee. November 15, 2016.
  2. ^ Cason, Mike (October 24, 2013). "Gary Palmer announces he will run for Congress in Alabama's 6th congressional district". AL.com. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  3. ^ Bialik, Carl; Bycoffe, Aaron (September 25, 2015). "The Hard-Line Republicans Who Pushed John Boehner Out". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Edmonson, Catie; Broadwater, Luke (October 22, 2023). "Meet the Republicans Running for Speaker". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Platt, Camille Smith (February 24, 2017). "Cover Story: Gary Palmer". Birmingham Christian Family Magazine. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Gary Palmer announces he will run for Congress in Alabama's 6th congressional district". AL.com. October 24, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  7. ^ "Ala. congressional candidate remembers playing for Bear Bryant: 'wouldn't trade it for anything'". Yellowhammer News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Moseley, Brandon (September 2014). "Crosby to Replace Palmer at API". Alabama Political Reporter. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  9. ^ Barnes, Fred (May 22, 2014). "A Conservative Candidate of Character, Conviction, Knowledge, and Leadership". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  10. ^ "Gary Palmer Marks Second Chance for Club for Growth in Alabama Race". At the Races. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  11. ^ "Gary Palmer swamps Paul DeMarco in 6th District Republican runoff". AL.com. July 16, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  12. ^ "Gary Palmer victorious in Alabama's 6th congressional district race". Shelby County Reporter. November 4, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "Gary Palmer". Ballotpedia. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  14. ^ "Here's how Alabama's U.S. House Representatives voted on President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill". WHNT.com. February 27, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  15. ^ Koplowitz, Howard (November 16, 2021). "Palmer roasted for 'hypocrisy' of securing Northern Beltline funding, voting against it". AL.com. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  16. ^ Bycoffe, Anna Wiederkehr and Aaron (October 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Wilkins, Emily; Cohen, Zach (March 4, 2022). "GOP Maps Out Next Agenda With Aid of Quiet Lawmaker From Alabama". Bloomberg Government. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  18. ^ Taylor, Daniel (February 6, 2023). "Aderholt, Britt, Palmer among 196 U.S. Congress members who received funds from FTX". 1819 News. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  19. ^ Zeigler, Jim (October 22, 2023). "Palmer to seek U.S. House speaker post". 1819 News. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  20. ^ ABC News. "House Republicans try once again to nominate a speaker". ABC News. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  21. ^ "Gary Palmer has dropped out of the House GOP speaker's contest, leaving a field of seven contenders". POLITICO. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  22. ^ "Gary J. Palmer". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  23. ^ Guy, Retiring (February 25, 2017). "Retiring Guy's Digest: Sounds like Alabama GOP rep and Freedom Caucus crazy Gary Palmer had a case of nerves at his town hall". Retiring Guy's Digest. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  24. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  25. ^ "Rep. Gary Palmer - Scorecard 116: 92% | Heritage Action". Heritage Action. June 29, 2020. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  26. ^ "ACU Lawmakers".
  27. ^ "ADA Liberal Quotient" (PDF).
  28. ^ a b Underwood, Madison (October 22, 2014). "Abortion, marijuana, and same-sex marriage: District 6 candidates state their positions". AL.com. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  29. ^ Palmer, Gary. "Today, we celebrate a decision by the Supreme Court that will save the lives of countless unborn Americans. While today is a great day in American history, the struggle is far from over. It will be up to state legislatures and Republicans in Congress to continue protecting life". Twitter. Retrieved June 25, 2022.
  30. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  31. ^ Kirby, Brendan (December 20, 2017). "Tax cuts will create 4,600 Alabama jobs, raise family income across the state by $519, study says - Yellowhammer News". Yellowhammer News. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  32. ^ Gans, Jared (May 31, 2023). "Republicans and Democrats who bucked party leaders by voting no". The Hill. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  33. ^ "Raising the Debt Limit: See Who Voted For and Against". The New York Times. May 31, 2023. Archived from the original on June 1, 2023. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  34. ^ Koplowitz, Howard (May 14, 2016). "'They have lost their minds': Roby, Palmer blast Obama administration over transgender student bathroom guidance". AL.com. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  35. ^ Koplowitz, Howard (June 26, 2015). "SCOTUS gay marriage ruling: Alabama congressional delegation widely pans same-sex marriage decision". AL.com. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  36. ^ Palmer, Gary (May 21, 2020). "A message to Americans from Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  37. ^ "Gary Palmer on Gun Control". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  38. ^ "Gary Palmer on Health Care". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  39. ^ "Gary Palmer on Homeland Security". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  40. ^ "Gary Palmer on Immigration". On the Issues. June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  41. ^ a b Blakely, Will (March 14, 2023). "U.S. Rep. Palmer running again in 2024; Claims pledge was to support term-limit legislation, but acknowledges saying would only serve five terms". 1819 News. Retrieved March 14, 2023.
  42. ^ Gore, Leada (November 24, 2014). "How long is too long in Congress? For Gary Palmer, it's 10 years: Today in Alabama politics". AL.com. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  43. ^ Moseley, Brandon (September 9, 2021). "Term Limits group targets Gary Palmer for allegedly breaking campaign pledge". Alabama Political Reporter. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  44. ^ Moseley, Brandon (March 11, 2023). "Gary Palmer breaking key campaign promise after praying to God for 'clarity'". Alabama Today. Retrieved March 11, 2023.
  45. ^ "Alabama's congressional delegation reacts to storming of US Capitol". WAFF. January 6, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  46. ^ Lyman, Brian (January 7, 2021). "6 Alabama congressmen, 1 senator support moves to throw out votes of Arizona, Pennsylvania". The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  47. ^ Yourish, Karen; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise (January 7, 2021). "The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  48. ^ "Rep. Gary Palmer: 'I hold the president responsible for sending those people to the Capitol'". Yellowhammer News. January 7, 2021. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  49. ^ "Palmer said that there "are still no grounds for impeachment"". Alabama Political Reporter. January 16, 2020. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  50. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). "Biden officially secures enough electors to become president". AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  51. ^ Liptak, Adam (December 11, 2020). "Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  52. ^ "Order in Pending Case" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 11, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  53. ^ Diaz, Daniella. "Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court". CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  54. ^ Primary election: Primary runoff: General election:
  55. ^ "2016 United States House of Representatives general election results" (PDF). Montgomery: Secretary of State of Alabama. 2016.
  56. ^ "2018 United States House of Representatives general election results" (PDF). Montgomery: Secretary of State of Alabama. 2018.
  57. ^ "2020 United States House of Representatives general election results" (PDF). Montgomery: Secretary of State of Alabama. 2020.
  58. ^ "2022 United States House of Representatives general election results" (PDF). Montgomery: Secretary of State of Alabama. 2022.
  59. ^ a b Koplowitz, Howard (July 21, 2015). "Palmer: D.C. more like 'C-SPAN' than 'House of Cards'". AL. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  60. ^ Turpen, Katie (December 10, 2014). "Local politician Gary Palmer discusses highlights of campaign and upcoming term". Hoover Sun. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  61. ^ "Faith on the Hill: The religious composition of the 116th Congress" (PDF). Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. January 3, 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2021.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by