As House Speaker John Boehner continues to hide the details of what happened and why during his conservative purge of House committees, House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is eschewing comment and instead directing all inquiries about the purge to Boehner’s office.
On Monday, Boehner and House GOP leadership removed four conservative Republicans from influential fiscally focused committees. Reps. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) of Michigan and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) of Kansas were pulled from the House Budget Committee and Reps. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) of Arizona and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) of North Carolina were removed from the House Financial Services Committee. Huelskamp was also purged from the House Agriculture Committee.
For several days, spokespeople for Ryan – the Republican Party’s most recent vice presidential candidate who’s widely rumored to be positioning himself to run for president in 2016 – have refused to answer any questions about whether Ryan was involved and, if he was, what role he played.
Then, on Friday, Ryan spokesman William Allison would not deny Ryan’s involvement in the purge. “We are going to defer you to the Speaker’s office and the Steering Committee,” Allison told Breitbart News when asked if Ryan was involved and supported Boehner’s move.
A spokesman for Boehner didn’t return a request for comment when asked if Ryan was involved.
An anonymous GOP leadership aide originally tried to pin some blame on the committee chairmen involved – incoming House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Ryan.
“Changes are made for a variety of reasons, most often at the request of committee chairs,” the anonymous GOP leadership aide told Roll Call.
Breitbart News first reported on Wednesday that Hensarling said he had nothing to do with the decision. Jones, one of the conservative members Boehner purged from Hensarling’s committee, later said Hensarling told him “I’m offended” by Boehner’s move.
Boehner representatives have also tried to blame the House GOP Steering Committee for the decision. “The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors,” Boehner spokesmen Michael Steel and Kevin Smith say when asked any questions about the purge. They refuse to discuss details on the record.
Both Ryan and Hensarling are also members of the House GOP Steering Committee.
A spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has refused to discuss the purge – and her boss’s role in it – on the record with Breitbart News. A spokesman for Cantor has similarly refused to discuss his role in the process on the record.
Leadership also refuses to release the secret list of criteria — which reportedly includes a vote scorecard — that was used to conduct the purge.
Any involvement by Ryan in the Boehner purge could hurt a 2016 presidential bid he’s rumored to be gearing up for. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Thursday that the actions of the people involved here will hurt any of them if they try to run for president. “I don’t know if any of these people want to run for president — maybe they’re going to have to explain why they wanted to purge people from their committees who believe in balancing the budget,” Paul said in a radio interview.
This week, Ryan signed onto Speaker Boehner’s letter to Obama about the fiscal cliff earlier this week, offering massive tax revenue increases.