“The speaker made it pretty clear that this might not be the last of this, and others are expected to fall in line and stay in line,” Huelskamp said.
What has been a boisterous caucus seems to be meeting Boehner’s expectations.
Each congressman had crossed leaders — and some colleagues — repeatedly. Amash and Huelskamp, for example, voted against the Republican budget written by Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) in the Budget Committee this spring, arguing that it did not cut spending deeply enough.
Huelskamp told reporters that if he could have found a flight in time, he would have swept back to Washington last December to deliver the lone objection to the payroll tax deal, a move that would have required all of his fellow House members to return to town over Christmas to take up the politically treacherous issue.
He said colleagues have told the group that the steering committee used a scorecard of past votes to determine loyalty and targeted members who have not stood by House leaders.
During the open-mike section of a closed-door meeting of House Republicans last week, Huelskamp rose and complained about the moving, asking that Boehner publicly release any scorecard used to determine loyalty.
“It was basically, ‘next speaker,’ ” Huelskamp said, describing the silence that followed his remarks.
On Friday, when he, Amash and Schweikert submitted a joint letter requesting an explanation, their signatures were the only ones on the note.
Another time a Republican speaker tried this, the results were different. In 1995, when Mark Neumann, then a freshman congressman from Wisconsin, was removed from a key committee post in retaliation for voting against the GOP leadership’s spending priorities, a group of 25 fellow freshmen marched into then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s office and demanded that he be reinstated.
“We were completely united that our job was to balance the budget,” Neumann said, reflecting on the support he received 17 years ago from the freshmen, who persuaded Gingrich (Ga.) to give him another important committee post. “I hope that happens now.”
But despite agitation from conservative groups off Capitol Hill — FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe called Boehner’s move a “remarkably hostile act” to conservatives and urged activists to protest — House freshmen have not lined up behind the three.
“I’m disappointed in it,” Huelskamp said, chalking it up, in part, to a short workweek for the House last week, which resulted in members being in Washington for only three days.