Months after leadership punished them, House Republicans take different paths

The four House Republicans who were ousted from prized committee slots following the 2012 election have responded in different ways since the admonishments were made public in December.

At the time of the oustings, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reminded his conference that he fell from a plum position in 1998 but was able to work hard and make it back to the top. 

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Three months later, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) is the only one of the four members who has a chance at reclaiming his old post on the Financial Services Committee, according to House Republicans interviewed for this article.

Schweikert is “handling things very, very well,” according to a lawmaker in the GOP leadership circle.

However, Reps. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Justin Amash (Mich.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) have not engendered the kind of team spirit leadership wants to see.

For example, the three Republicans started the 113th Congress off with defining votes for Speaker. Schweikert voted for Boehner, while Amash led a failed coup attempt, joined by Huelskamp. Jones, meanwhile, voted for former U.S. Comptroller David Walker to be Speaker.

The Hill spoke with lawmakers who are close to leadership, on relevant committees and on the Steering Committee to gather feedback for this article. The members agreed to speak on background due to the sensitivity of the topic.

REP. TIM HUELSKAMP (R-KAN.) 

The sophomore Republican says that a lot has changed for him since he spoke out following his unexpected reassignment from the Budget and Agricultural committees. 

Now, conservative-leaning groups are paying attention to what he says and does.

“One of my colleagues put it interestingly. He said, ‘Well Tim, they’ve given you a platform that you’ve never had before,’” Huelskamp said in an interview.

He has also been in demand among cable-news shows, including on Fox and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.

But some Republicans in the House don’t trust him.

“[Huelskamp] is just not trustworthy and if he wants to be up here and a lone wolf and cause problems, he’ll never have any legislative accomplishments,” a lawmaker close to leadership said. 

Removing him from two committees, Huelskamp said, has “had the opposite effect (of) trying to silence myself and a few others. It’s actually enhanced our ability to speak out and impact the process.”

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MICH.) 

The pugnacious lawmaker won few friends in the House by voting against the GOP budget in 2012 and trying to take out Boehner in January. 

“People look at you when you suffer a setback and see if you are handling it like an adult ... vengeance is usually not a smart political strategy; it’s never smart personally,” one senior GOP lawmaker noted. 

Amash might run for Michigan’s open Senate seat in the wake of Sen. Carl Levin’s (D-Mich.) decision not to run for reelection. One GOP Michigan delegation member told The Hill that “we can hope” he will. 

Amash didn’t comment for this article.

REP. DAVID SCHWEIKERT (R-ARIZ.) 

Schweikert was caught in a difficult position during the last Congress, according to sources in leadership. 

He took on a fellow GOP lawmaker, now-former Rep. Ben Quayle (Ariz.), the son of the former Vice President Dan Quayle, in a race that turned nasty.

Schweikert denied reports that he had leaked a story about Quayle and other lawmakers who went swimming at night in the Sea of Galilee in 2011. The Politico reporter who broke the story has denied that Schweikert was his source.

Regardless, the leak was embarrassing to the GOP Conference and for Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), who subsequently apologized for skinny-dipping that night. 

Schweikert could find himself back on Financial Services if he continues to be a team player. He voted for Boehner for Speaker, supported a recent government funding bill and has been working on moving measures through the Small Business Committee. 

“He’s just so smart, and I know [Financial Services Committee Chairman] Jeb [Hensarling (R-Texas)] thinks very highly of him. I can see a way back for David, back onto the committee,” a high-ranking GOP lawmaker said. 

A source close to Schweikert noted that the Arizona lawmaker has not done anything differently. 

“He’s always been a professional, a grown-up who’s willing to sit down with anyone ... just because he’s the grown-up in the room doesn’t mean he’s acquiescing,” the source said, noting Schweikert’s recent “Dear Colleague” letter to vote “no” on rules that don’t adhere to the so-called “Hastert Rule.”

REP. WALTER JONES (R-N.C.) 

Jones, a Democrat turned Republican, was removed from his spot on the Financial Services Committee last year but was allowed to stay on his coveted Armed Services Committee. 

The anti-war lawmaker, who is beloved by many of his colleagues on a personal level, had trouble paying the expected dues the GOP’s campaign arm. 

Members who sit on powerful committees are expected to raise more for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), according to sources familiar with the situation, and Jones wasn’t doing his part to raise the money. 

“That’s one of the reasons I got kicked off — because I didn’t raise enough money,” Jones said. 

Jones has also irritated Boehner by breaking with House leadership on high-profile bills.

“You’ve got to love him. He’s got to be the nicest man in Congress and he’s got to do what he thinks is the right thing to do. He makes his points,” a top-ranking lawmaker said. 

Jones has long said he will vote his conscience and realizes he will never be a subcommittee or full committee chairman.


This article was updated at 12:27 p.m.


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