After purging four conservative House members from key Committees, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) threatened Republican members of Congress on Wednesday by telling them Republican leaders are “watching” their votes to determine future committee assignments.
Boehner’s remarks are a sign that the moderate House Republican leadership will be less tolerant of conservative dissent.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), who was removed from the Budget Committee, said Boehner warned those in his conference that “there may be more folks that will be targeted” and the Republican leadership is “watching all of 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 told The Hill.
Breitbart News investigative reporter Matthew Boyle broke the story that House Republican leadership used a secret list of votes in a closed-door meeting to decide to remove Huelskamp and Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC), and David Schweikert (R-AZ) from their Committees.
According to The Hill, Boehner “addressed the firestorm over the removal of four lawmakers from plum committee assignments at the weekly GOP conference meeting.” His remarks may be a sign that Boehner is willing to adopt the tactics of former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), who was known as “the hammer” last decade for his ability to whip Republicans in line.
Some of DeLay’s former aides now work for Boehner.
Conservative lawmakers wanted answers to the “crimes committed” by the four members dropped from their committees. Huelskamp was furious that the the purge happened behind closed doors.
“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.”
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said he wants the list of votes that was used to purge the members from the committees to be made public.
“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.
Boehner’s moves upset many prominent conservatives — and some are calling for him to be removed as Speaker.
Ned Ryun, the president of American Majority Action, on Wednesday urged conservatives “fire” Boehner as House Speaker, noting that only 16 Republicans needed to abstain from voting for him for Speaker to get the process or removing him started.
“Speaker Boehner has been an abysmal failure as speaker, and his latest purge is the nail in the coffin for conservatives,” Ryun said. “Boehner has never won a negotiation battle with the White House or Senate–and he’s been nothing short of an embarrassing spokesman for the Conservative Movement. It’s time for him to go.”