Conference into Submission
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned his conference on Wednesday that leaders are “watching” how the rank and file vote to determine committee assignments, according to sources in a closed-door meeting.
Boehner addressed the firestorm over the removal of four lawmakers from plum committee assignments at the weekly GOP conference meeting.
Threatening members with panel assignments is a clear sign that Boehner is getting tougher with his conference and reminding many in Washington of the tactics used by former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX).
In many ways, the easygoing Boehner is the polar opposite of DeLay, who was known as “The Hammer.” Boehner has tried cajoling his members over the last couple of years to be team players. But by and large, it hasn’t worked, and Boehner is now shifting course.
Some lawmakers are relieved that leadership is punishing members who had badmouthed the party and defected on high-profile votes. Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had attracted criticism for being too genial.
A veteran Republican lawmaker, speaking on background last year, told The Hill, “You can’t talk tough to somebody and there be no consequences … people need to be made an example in some way.”
The Mr. Nice Guy management style appears to be over. One lawmaker quipped that Boehner is now “almost DeLay-like.”
Still, Boehner’s explanation to House Republicans on Wednesday sparked some confusion and concern among the ranks.
Conservative lawmakers, in particular, want answers as to the “crimes committed” by the four members dropped from their committees. They are also not pleased that the members were not called and were alerted to the news by the media.
According to Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), one of the four members who was penalized, Boehner told the conference that the moves had nothing to do with conservative ideology and referenced “voting patterns.”
Other Republicans removed from committee spots were Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC) and David Schweikert (R-AZ).
Huelskamp added that Boehner warned GOP lawmakers that “there may be more folks that will be targeted...we’re watching all your votes.”
“It was a message to the Republican Conference in general, especially the comment today that there may be more punishment coming if you don’t vote the right way,” Huelskamp said.
While various sources disputed Huelskamp’s interpretation of the Speaker’s comments, the Kansas freshman articulated the concerns felt by members of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).
Later in the day, at their own closed-door caucus meeting, the RSC took the rare action of kicking out staffers to discuss the leaders’ decision to remove rogue lawmakers from committees.
According to sources at the meeting, the conservatives were concerned whether they had garnered the ire of leadership with votes cast contravening the party line.
Firebrand conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told The Hill that he wants the list of votes and criteria used to determine which members were removed from committees, and why leadership didn’t call the members.
“I’m most troubled because independent voices will not be as vocal as they might as well have been...some of them are going to be intimidated,” King said as he slipped into the two-hour meeting.
It is unclear how the RSC will proceed with securing leadership’s punishment matrix.
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Editor's Note: Mr. Boehner, the Republican Party is supposed to be an honest party of representation and critical thinkers. What's going on with you?...
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