Ousted GOP freshmen demand explanation from Speaker Boehner

Three Republican congressmen who were booted from House committees are demanding an explanation from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). 

Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to Boehner asking for "a full and complete written explanation of the rationale for removing us from our current committee assignments, including any 'scorecards' presented to the Steering Committee to justify our removals."

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“Two days ago I asked House GOP Leadership to explain why we were taken off key committees, but my questions have gone unanswered,” Huelskamp said in a statement. “Not only do I deserve answers, but the people of Kansas deserve to know as well. And, my colleagues who have been safe so far should know to how they can avoid retribution in the future. After all, the entire GOP conference was warned last week that leadership is watching their votes as well."

All three lawmakers were reportedly punished for bucking House leaders on important votes. Amash and Huelskamp were removed from the Budget Committee, while Schweikert was kicked off the Agriculture panel.

The removals have become a brewing controversy within the Republican ranks, with Tea Party groups and organizations like the Club for Growth rallying to their defense.

In the letter to Boehner, the lawmakers complained that some GOP members learned of their removal through news reports rather than from the Steering Committee, and complain that the Speaker had never indicated which specific votes could lead to their committee removal.

"Through this past term, we were not aware that any such scorecard existed, nor that the scores would cause us to be removed from committee assignments," they wrote. "We believe this would be valuable information for the entire Republican Conference to know, so that each Member can make a full and complete decision when casting votes in the future."

The lawmakers requested a response from Boehner by the close of business on Monday.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who was removed from the Financial Services committee, did not sign the letter. 

All four of the lawmakers voted against the Budget Control Act last year that ultimately raised the debt ceiling, but set up the automatic triggers that may come if legislators are unable to reach a resolution to the "fiscal cliff."

The letter is seen as the opening salvo in what could become a nasty fight for the Speaker. Some Republicans are upset that Boehner has already signaled a willingness to compromise with President Obama on increased revenues, and American Majority, a Virginia-based conservative activist group, said this week they would lobby Republicans in the House not to vote for Boehner to retain his gavel.

On Friday, Amash said he would not commit to voting for Boehner as Speaker. 

"We're going to see how the next few weeks go and whether he's willing to make amends," Amash told CNN's "Starting Point." "Right now I'm not very happy with the Speaker."