Well, that was quick. After denying that conservatives were thrown off committee spots for ideological purposes, Boehner now admitted it in front of his conference, according to The Hill:
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.”
Oh, so it’s not about ideology; it’s about voting patterns. Hmmmm That’s a funny distinction. So there’s not problem with conservative ideology, as long as you vote to raise the debt ceiling – the very piece of legislation that has gotten up into this mess in the first place. Actually, there is a clever purpose in making this absurd distinction. The Hill continues:
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.”
He is clearly trying to drive a wedge between conservative members by making an example of these particular ones. Conservatives need to stick together and not walk into this trap. They should tell Boehner and Cantor to engage Obama the same way they engage their conference.
The guys in leadership who are purging conservatives so they can cut a deal with Democrats need to remember this: in low-turnout closed primaries, they will be at a disadvantage on our home field territory.
And as far as retribution is concerned, let’s go back in a time machine to January 5, 1997, when conservatives were trying to challenge Newt Gingrich. John Boehner was asked by Tim Russert on Meet the Press if conservatives would be removed from committees as retribution for going against leadership. Here’s what he said:
“I don’t think there ought to be any retribution. All members are entitled to make their own decision. They’re all independently elected.”
How times have changed…..