Boehner to members: Leadership is watching their voting patterns – The Hill

The Hill Newspaper


Boehner to members: Leadership is watching their voting patterns

By Molly K. Hooper – 12/05/12 12:31 PM ET


Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned his conference on Wednesday that leaders are “watching” how the rank-and-file vote to determine committee assignments, according to sources in the closed-door meeting.

Boehner addressed the firestorm over the removal of four lawmakers from plum committee assignments at the weekly GOP conference meeting.

According to Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), one of the lawmakers denied a spot on his current committee in the next Congress, Boehner “did note that ‘we [leadership] have punished four members,’ he claimed that it had nothing to do with their conservative ideology, but had to do with their voting patterns.”

Also removed from committee spots were Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and David Schweikert (Ariz.).

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.

A source at the conference meeting disputed Huelskamp’s characterization of Boehner’s point, noting that the Speaker said “some votes factored into [the decision to remove lawmakers from committee assignments] but it wasn’t just [votes], it was a bigger picture than all that, that caused this to happen.”

The crux of the problem is that Democrats have successfully employed a “divide and conquer” strategy when outspoken GOP House members “gratuitously bad-mouth the leadership,” a separate source told The Hill. “That [GOP members] run to the press to get their own headlines and that divides us and that’s really where Boehner’s coming from,” the source said.

Another GOP source who was in the room corroborated that Boehner addressed the question of a supposedly punishing conservatives.

The source quoted Boehner as saying “the Steering Committee this week decided to remove committee assignments from four members, and replace them with other members. This was not done lightly. This is something the committee took seriously, and hopes never to have to do again.”

According to the source, Boehner continued, “the committee’s decision had nothing to do with ideology. For those suggesting otherwise, I’d respectfully suggest that you look at some of the people the Steering Committee put in charge of committees. I’d also suggest you look at some of the members who were added to the committees by the Steering Committee. If you do that and come away with the conclusion that there was a ‘conservative purge,’ I’d be interested hearing the rationale.”

Huelskamp addressed the conference, receiving, he said, a “warm reception from some and silence from others,” and requested that leaders provide “that list of votes used in the Steering Committee to reward or punish members.”

Huelskamp said his request for committee votes was met by “stony silence” from leadership, and said Boehner’s refusal to release the votes was akin to stabbing him in the back.

“Where I come from in Kansas if you want to stab a guy you look him in the eye,” he said. “You don’t go behind a closed door.”

Huelskamp declined to say if he would vote for Boehner to retain his Speakership in January.

“The Fiesta Bowl with K-State is the same day,” he said, indicating that he may abstain.

 Boehner to members: Leadership is watching their voting patterns – The Hill.


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