By The Hill Editors - 12/05/12 12:56 AM EST
Before he became the House’s most powerful member, Rep. John BoehnerJohn BoehnerOvernight Finance: GOP makes its case for impeaching IRS chief | Clinton hits Trump over housing crash remarks | Ryan's big Puerto Rico win House GOP changes rules to thwart Dems Ryan secures big win with bipartisan Puerto Rico deal MORE (R-Ohio) told The Hill he had learned a lot from watching previous Speakers.
“I’m going to run the House differently than it’s being run today, and I’m going to run it differently than my Republican predecessors ran it,” BoehnerJohn BoehnerOvernight Finance: GOP makes its case for impeaching IRS chief | Clinton hits Trump over housing crash remarks | Ryan's big Puerto Rico win House GOP changes rules to thwart Dems Ryan secures big win with bipartisan Puerto Rico deal MORE said.
Since the election, he has tightened his grip on his conference to give himself more power over rank-and-file members. As The Hill noted last month, Boehner has expanded his voting weight on the panel that hands out plum committee assignments, shot down a challenge to his earmark moratorium and worked behind the scenes to ensure that Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP leaders rip VA chief over Disneyland comparison The Trail 2016: Sanders who? Senior Trump aide assures conservatives on court picks MORE (R-Wash.) won her leadership contest.
This week, the Speaker and his lieutenants stressed the need for unity by penalizing GOP lawmakers who have failed to toe the party line.
Reps. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertSenate races heating up Tea Party class reassesses record Lawmakers to DOD: Reject 'no touch' policy sought by 9/11 plotter MORE (R-Ariz.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) lost spots on the Financial Services Committee, and Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashLibertarian looks for anti-Trump bump The Hill's 12:30 Report Ten third-party candidate names at top of Never Trump’s list MORE (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) were stripped of their seats on the Budget Committee.
Conservative groups on the right did not take the news kindly, and neither did Huelskamp.
In a press release, the Kansas Republican said, “It is little wonder why Congress has a 16 percent approval rating: Americans send principled representatives to change Washington and get punished in return. The GOP leadership might think they have silenced conservatives, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our conservative convictions. This is clearly a vindictive move, and a sure sign that the GOP establishment cannot handle disagreement.”
Later this month, Boehner, Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorJohn Feehery: GOP: Listen to Reince The Trail 2016: Dems struggle for unity Overnight Regulation: Supreme Court rejects GOP redistricting challenge MORE (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will probably be scrambling for votes to pass a debt agreement. They are unlikely to get those of Huelskamp, Amash, Schweikert or Jones.
But there is a good chance they wouldn’t have secured those votes anyway.
The move to oust these members might resonate with on-the-fence House Republicans who want to climb the GOP ladder. Being loyal is the only way to do that.
GOP leaders have threatened tough enforcement before, and it didn’t work. In 2011, Boehner famously advised Republican members to “get your ass in line” behind his debt proposal. They didn’t, and Boehner ended up having to withdraw the bill.
In politics, party discipline is vital. Boehner is trying to instill more of it in the House Republican Conference.