"You've got a member here and a member there who are off the reservation," Boehner said. "No big deal."
Even some of the House's most reliably conservative members and most reliable critics of Boehner stopped short of endorsing Meadows's move Wednesday. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a fellow member of the House Freedom Caucus, said the move was "easy to understand," making reference to an incident earlier this month where Meadows was briefly stripped of his chairmanship of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee."
"Mark has had a tough time," he said.
But Fleming declined to say whether Meadows's motion was the best way to challenge GOP leadership or where he would move for such a motion should it come to the floor.
Other conservatives were even more outspoken against the move, some noting that if the motion came to a floor vote it would give Democrats leverage to extract policy concessions from GOP leaders in exchange for a pledge not to join with the conservative faction in voting to remove Boehner -- which is the only way Meadows's ploy could succeed.
"It took a lot of us by surprise, and I feel like any leadership discussions among Republicans should be with Republicans and not empower Nancy Pelosi to exploit the process," said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), referring to the House Democratic leader.
Pelosi (D-Calif.), for her part, said "no" when asked Wednesday if she could see Democrats joining with right-wing Republicans to unseat Boehner, though she referred to such a vote as a "hypothetical."
Democratic Conference Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) also played down the notion that Democrats would insert themselves into the internal battles of the GOP caucus, but left the door open slightly to possibly using the leverage that a motion-to-vacate vote would offer.
"Circuses can be interesting things, but we'll let that circus work its own will," he said. "Anything that helps us get things done, we'll move on that."
Franks also complained that the internal leadership fight only distracts from the Republican party's key issues of the moment heading into the August recess: opposing the Iran nuclear deal and ending government funding for Planned Parenthood: "Those are two significant questions that shouldn't fall prey to the distraction of this proposal," he said.
The timing of the move, immediately before the six-week summer recess, has also fueled suspicious that it's more about fundraising and stoking the fury of far-right activists rather than provoking a "family conservation."
"All I would say is that the timing is curious if you really wanted to have a conversation," said Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.).
Boehner could have made a more assertive move to put down the insurgency Wednesday, by calling Meadows's resolution to the House floor then moving to table it permanently. But the speaker said Wednesday that it wasn't worth the effort: "Listen, this is one member, all right? I've got broad support amongst my colleagues. And, frankly, it isn't even deserving of a vote."
Meadows, meanwhile, was a quiet presence Wednesday, sitting by himself off the House floor, speaking on his cellphone and showing no sign of regret.
"I've had more interaction with you than I have my fellow members of Congress today," he told reporters after hanging up and walking to the floor to vote.