To keep conservative rebels in check, Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan has little margin for error in Speaker vote Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ohio) and his allies have been doling out punishments at an aggressive clip in the 114th Congress.
From kicking unruly members off the Rules Committee and GOP whip team to stripping a lawmaker of his subcommittee gavel, leadership has been growing more comfortable with taking retaliatory measures to try to enforce party discipline.
GOP leaders are now in a holding pattern as they figure out whether any other rebels should be punished. Here’s a short history of the dozen defectors who’ve experienced Boehner’s wrath — so far — this Congress:
Boehner boots two from Rules Committee
Boehner’s first act of retribution arrived on the opening day of the new Congress. Within hours of voting against Boehner for Speaker, Florida Republican Reps. Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent were unceremoniously dumped from the House Rules Committee. Boehner directly appoints majority-party members to the panel, known as the “Speaker’s committee,” which acts as an arm of leadership in determining how legislation is considered on the House floor. Selected members are expected to demonstrate their loyalty.
Outcome: Webster’s first-quarter fundraising totals shot up after many conservatives embraced his last-minute run for Speaker. But GOP aides expect his fundraising to falter over the long term since leadership-affiliated groups won’t be helping him out as they did in the past. Webster and Nugent’s seats sat empty for three months until Boehner appointed Reps. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) to replace them.
Revoked travel privileges
House GOP leadership aides say that taxpayer-funded travel is “a privilege and not a right.” At least three conservatives who frequently oppose leadership — Reps. Steve King (Iowa), Ted YohoTed YohoRyan has little margin for error in Speaker vote The Trail 2016: Sinister plot GOP rep incorrectly says 2005 Trump remarks made 'in a locker room' MORE (Fla.) and Louie GohmertLouie GohmertRyan has little margin for error in Speaker vote GOP rep calls Clinton 'mentally impaired' GOP rep: Trump ‘courageous’ for giving Cruz speech MORE (Texas) — learned the lesson the hard way. The Speaker’s office informed King of his revoked funds just a few hours before his flight was set to depart for a congressional delegation to Egypt. Yoho, one of the three long-shot Republicans to challenge Boehner for Speaker, was removed from a spring congressional delegation to attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama. And Gohmert was removed from scheduled trips to Egypt and Africa earlier this year.
Outcome: King ultimately went on the trip to Egypt anyway with his own money and “literally reached into my kids’ inheritance.” Yoho kept quiet about the revoked travel privileges until this week when he felt compelled to speak out in the aftermath of recent retribution for voting against a procedural motion for the trade package this month. Gohmert remained defiant: “As a result of [Boehner] canceling my trip this weekend, I get to be on Fox News,” he declared on the House floor in March. Still, it’s a lot harder for these lawmakers to join colleagues for expensive foreign trips when it’s on their own dime.
Three purged from whip team
After 34 conservatives revolted against leadership and tried to kill a major trade package this month, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) quickly purged offenders from his vote-counting team. Three Freedom Caucus members — Reps. Cynthia LummisCynthia LummisEPA employees won't face charges over Colorado mine spill Female lawmakers urge Obama to back a woman for UN chief Trump calls congresswoman to stage at child care policy speech MORE (Wyo.), Trent FranksTrent FranksSpeaker Ryan tries new Trump strategy: Ignore him 27 days before elections, GOP at war with itself Five things to watch for at IRS impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.) and Steve Pearce (N.M.) — were booted from the team, marking the first wave of retaliation against lawmakers who voted to block the trade bills over objections to the “convoluted” way they would be structured on the floor.
Outcome: For the most part, the conservative trio accepted Scalise’s decision, since longstanding whip-team rules dictate that members must stick with leadership on procedural rules votes. Some of the intraparty divisions can be attributed to the fact that the 246-member GOP conference is the largest it’s been in generations, Lummis said. “I was really sad. I don’t want to see these things escalate,” she told The Hill. “Republicans occasionally like to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Meadows stripped of committee gavel
Perhaps no act of retribution sparked more conservative outrage than when House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) ousted Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) as a subcommittee chairman for voting against the same trade rule and failing to pay party dues. Though mild-mannered and well-liked by his colleagues, Meadows already had been on thin ice for voting against Boehner for Speaker and co-founding the Freedom Caucus. In a meeting in Meadows’ office, Chaffetz said he had consulted with GOP leaders and the Steering Committee but that the decision was entirely his own.
Outcome: On Thursday, just a week later, Chaffetz abruptly reversed course and reinstated Meadows as chairman of Oversight’s subcommittee on government operations — even though Boehner had publicly endorsed Chaffetz’s punishment against Meadows a day earlier. Conservative media personalities had spent the week ripping Chaffetz; Redstate’s Erick Erickson dissed him as a “lapdog of leadership.” But it was a GOP conference rule that ultimately forced Chaffetz to revoke the punishment. To appoint Meadows’ successor as subcommittee chairman, Chaffetz needed backing from a majority of his committee members. The problem: The full panel was stacked with Freedom Caucus members and their sympathizers, who wanted Meadows reinstated and threatened to scuttle any new pick.
Plot to sack freshman class president
Rep. Ken Buck had seen what was happening to other Freedom Caucus members who joined him in voting against the trade rule. Late Tuesday, the Colorado Republican became the target. A freshman colleague, Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.), approached him with an ultimatum: Resign as GOP freshman class president, or we will vote you out. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), the freshman liaison to leadership, and other Boehner allies hastily scheduled a meeting for the next day to overthrow Buck. But he refused to step down; instead, Buck took to Twitter and issued a defiant message: “Bring it on.”
Outcome: Buck survived the coup attempt, though he emerged from the meeting in the Capitol bruised and battered. His fellow freshmen complained he was an ineffective leader, saying he hadn’t organized enough freshman gatherings or communicated to the group. But Buck has organized a variety of events including a bipartisan freshman lunch with former Obama administration official and current Uber executive David Plouffe, a reception with wine and spirits wholesalers, and an upcoming trip to Langley, Va. His vote to undermine leadership also was a source of frustration, one freshman lawmaker in the room said. Buck’s political foes said they had enough votes to remove him, but they backed off after his allies begged to give him another chance to make things right.
Bills blocked from floor votes
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), an 11-term libertarian who frequently bucks his party, has been the target of punishment before: GOP leaders removed him from the powerful House Financial Services Committee in 2012. Reps. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), David SchweikertDavid SchweikertThe Hill's 12:30 Report Former GOP congressman lobbying for electric cars Senate races heating up MORE (Ariz.) and Justin AmashJustin AmashLawmakers press Lynch for briefing on Yahoo secret email scanning reports House Freedom Caucus member slows floor business House votes to block Gitmo transfers MORE (Mich.) were also kicked off the Budget, Agriculture and Financial Services Committees at the time. But Jones claims leadership has reached a new level of pettiness in preventing a vote on his bill to rename a federal courthouse in his district after Randy Doub, a judge who passed away earlier this year.
“You can despise the individual, but for God’s sakes, this actually is hurtful to the family,” Jones told The Hill.
A House GOP leadership aide denied that Jones’s bill was intentionally held up.
During the first week of the new Congress in January, Rep. Randy WeberRandy WeberRyan has little margin for error in Speaker vote Lawmakers weigh federal role in preventing election hacks Dem rep tells Trump to ‘shut the f--- up’ over Ginsburg criticism MORE (R-Texas) was originally slated to be the sponsor of a noncontroversial bill that establishes an Energy Department research program on low-dose radiation. But he claimed leadership changed the author to Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) after Weber pledged to oppose Boehner’s reelection as Speaker.
Outcome: The courthouse renaming bill has stalled after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent it to the floor in May. Jones said he’s discussed potentially changing the chief sponsor of the bill to Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) instead so that it can move forward. “I’ve been told that any bill that I have of consequence, that if my name’s on it, it’s probably not going to get moving,” Jones said.