A pair of the House of Representatives’ most conservative members said Tuesday that they were blindsided by news that they would be removed from key committees during the upcoming Congress.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) said House leadership didn’t even inform him of the decision. “I had to read it in the newspapers,” he told a crowd at Heritage’s Bloggers Briefing. (Watch the full event above.)
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) claimed that leadership reneged on an agreement with House freshman inked in 2010. Under the deal, Huelskamp said, any member would be free to “vote their conscience and their district” as long as they agreed to fund-raise for Republican candidates and inform leadership of their votes prior to casting them.
But according to Huelskamp, Republican members were ranked according to their votes during the 112th Congress in closed-door meetings. “If you didn’t get a high enough score,” he claimed, citing “multiple sources,” members were “punished.”
It sends a message, Huelskamp added, that “dissent will not be tolerated.”
Amash, who says he voted with leadership 95% of the time, called the committee assignments “a slap in the face to all young people who are thinking of becoming Republicans.”
Both congressmen painted the move as an ongoing trend of hostility towards more conservative members of the Republican caucus. Huelskamp tied it to rule-changes at the Republican National Convention that gave the national committee veto power over state delegates.
While the committee assignments have obvious political implications, they will be felt most in the policy arena, Huelskamp said. “This doesn’t hurt you at home,” he said, but it may deal a blow to conservative policy proposals on Capitol Hill.
He noted that many members were removed from committees dealing with issues in which those members have expertise Huelskamp himself is a former farmer, but was removed from the Agriculture Committee. He cited Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-AZ) as well, who was booted from the Finance Committee despite his business background.