Boehner Purges Wayward Republicans From Budget Committees
House Speaker John Boehner has purged the body’s key financial committees of members of his caucus that didn’t toe the line.
Roll Call (“GOP Steering Committee Shuffles Conservatives“):
Speaker John A. Boehner initiated today a small purge of rebellious Republicans — mostly conservatives — from prominent committees; it’s the latest instance of the Ohio Republican’s clamping down on his fractious conference.
The decisions were made by the GOP Steering Committee at a Monday meeting, which reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership, three sources said.
Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were booted from the Financial Services Committee. Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas were removed from the Budget Committee.
According to a source, Schweikert was told that he was ousted in part because his “votes were not in lockstep with leadership.” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said, “The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors.” One GOP leadership aide said, “Changes are made for a variety of reasons, most often at the request of committee chairs.”
All of the lawmakers other than Jones were rebellious right-wingers. Huelskamp and Amash, for instance, both voted against the budget proposed by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin in committee and on the floor, because it did not cut spending fast enough. They also voted against the current continuing resolution that is funding the government through the end of March.
The shuffling is the latest sign that Boehner is flexing his muscle with the right flank of his conference as he seeks a united front during tense fiscal cliff negotiations with President Barack Obama.
A GOP strategist said, “This is a move that the whip team has been advocating for some time. They are using all of the tools at their disposal.”
It’s a hardball move well within his prerogative as party leader in the House. It’s also another move in the unwelcome direction of turning the US Congress into a parliamentary system with lock-step party-line votes. It’s not supposed to work this way, as Members are elected to represent individual districts with disparate needs, not as part of a national party ticket.