By Alicia M. Cohn - 12/10/12 01:27 PM EST
Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) on Monday would not say if he would back Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to keep the top spot in the GOP caucus next Congress.
The conservative lawmaker, who was ousted from the House Financial Services Committee by Boehner last week, declined to respond when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” if he would prefer Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as Speaker.
Schweikert is one of four GOP members, along with Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) and Walter Jones (N.C.), who were removed from their committee posts last week.
Schweikert and his three colleagues voted frequently against the party line and have complained that conservatives are being punished by leadership.
"There's no question that conservative members have been sort of sent to the woodshed," he said on Monday.
But the Arizona lawmakers said he will not lash out at the party. "I'm not happy, but this is also big boy politics," he continued.
Boehner has denied suggestions of a "conservative purge" by leadership, saying the Steering Committee's decisions on other committees prove otherwise.
But participants at a closed-door caucus meeting last week said Boehner warned that leadership is watching the "voting patterns" of all members.
Schweikert said Monday he believes that many other "conservatives did not progress as they should have," even if they were not removed from their current posts.
Schweikert, along with Amash and Huelskamp, last week demanded that leadership provide a written "rationale for removing us from our current committee assignments, including any 'scorecards' presented to the Steering Committee to justify our removals."
The move from leadership has also brought opposition from outside conservative groups, some of whom are calling for the Speaker's ouster. Amash has suggested he might not support Boehner to continue as House Speaker.
"You've got a number of conservatives and groups around the country that literally want to go to battle," Schweikert noted. But he said he believes that the need for Congress to tackle real policy change takes precedence over individual members of a party.
"Welcome to the politics of Washington," he said. He said his choice is to "focus on how do we save the country" rather than to "light it up for your own vanity."
"You never give up the fight," he added.