Who’s next on Boehner’s hit list?

Who’s next on Boehner’s hit list?
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Who’s next?

Republicans on Capitol Hill are buzzing about who will face the next round of political payback after a pack of conservatives tried to overthrow Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' Cheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE.

GOP officials have already doled out some punishments, but it is clear that the revenge games have just begun.

Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday no final decisions have been made, and his 246-member conference will be having a “family conversation” in the coming weeks about what to do with the more than two dozen defectors.


This “conversation” is a stark departure from Boehner’s reign in leadership. Over the years, the affable Speaker has noted he “doesn’t do anger.” But while he has not shown his frustration publicly, Boehner appears to be tired of turning the other cheek.

It’s possible three Republicans — Reps. Scott Garrett (N.J.), Marlin Stutzman (Ind.) and Bill Posey (Fla.) — could lose their seats on the influential Financial Services Committee. And Garrett, who is serving his seventh term, heads the panel’s subcommittee on capital markets.

Boehner’s allies also could seek retribution against GOP Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), who was appointed to the coveted House Appropriations panel late last year.

Other Boehner dissidents, including freshman Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), will almost certainly lose any fundraising help from the Speaker and his friends. That could cost Blum tens of thousands of dollars in donations as he runs for reelection in his swing district.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said he was aware of the political consequences when he cast his vote for Speaker for Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.).

“It’s a false decision for members walking in the chamber when they vote for Speaker. You don’t really have a choice — it’s an illusion,” Massie told The Hill. “They’ll be deprived of fundraising opportunities, removed from their committees, and they very well may end their political careers by voting against the Speaker.”

Boehner already has taken quick action against some of his foes. Hours after the Tuesday vote, the Speaker’s allies booted two Florida Republicans off the powerful Rules Committee: Rep. Daniel Webster, who challenged Boehner for Speaker, and Rep. Richard Nugent, who voted for Webster.

Another member of the “dump Boehner” crew, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), alleged that Boehner’s allies immediately informed him he would not be receiving a subcommittee chairmanship after he came out against the Speaker. Sources said it was Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) who delivered the news to Huelskamp.

In an interview Wednesday, Miller acknowledged he called Huelskamp but disputed aspects of the allegations.

“Their account is incorrect,” Miller told The Hill. “I make the appointments. I never said he was going to get an appointment. I did not call him and tell him he was not going to get the appointment. … At no time did I tell him he was going to get a subcommittee gavel.”

Leadership aides declined to detail who else might face retaliation — “consequences” as many in Boehner’s circle are calling it — or what that punishment might look like.  Aides to Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) also declined to weigh in about the fate of three of his committee members.

But there is precedent for leadership removing rebellious members from influential panels. Two years ago, Boehner allies ejected Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) from the Financial Services Committee, and Huelskamp and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) from the Budget Committee for voting against leadership. Schweikert got his seat back in 2014 after falling in line.  

Emerging from a closed-door meeting with his members Wednesday, Boehner acknowledged that Nugent and Webster had been axed from Rules due to “some of the activities” on the House floor.

But he allowed the possibility that the two troublemakers could be reinstated at some point.

“We’re going to have a family conversation … about bringing our team together,” Boehner told reporters. “And I expect those conversations for the next couple of days will continue and we’ll come to a decision about how we go forward.”

The 25 GOP defections were historic; they represented the largest revolt against a sitting Speaker in nearly a century. And just as the raucous GOP conference was divided in Tuesday’s vote, Republicans are split over whether those Tea Party agitators deserve to be punished.

The issue was rigorously debated in Wednesday’s closed-door caucus meeting, with Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) and others imploring the Speaker’s team against taking further action.

But Boehner’s initial retaliation is being cheered by some of his allies who’ve been urging him to ditch his nice-guy reputation.

“There is revenge and then there is a word called ‘consequences,’ ” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a former Republican leader in the Georgia statehouse who serves on Boehner’s Steering Committee, which is responsible for appointing chairmen. “If you have a child that does something he knows is wrong, and you send him to his room, is that revenge?”

Westmoreland would know. In 2006, he was kicked off the GOP whip team for bucking his leaders.

Conservative Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) voted for the Speaker in the public roll call but warned Boehner and his deputies not to move against those who opposed him.

“As we’re beginning a historic session, it would be my hope there would be an era of magnanimity to begin the session, that there would not be retribution,” he said.

Yoho, who along with Webster and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) ran against Boehner, said on Fox News that retaliation is something that would happen in a “communist country.” Another Tea Party defector, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), characterized Boehner’s actions as “intimidation tactics.”

Other GOP defectors say they aren’t worried about getting whacked.

“My experience in watching the Speaker is that he’s not vindictive, and so my vote was a vote of conscience. And I hope it will be seen as such,” Rigell told reporters Wednesday.

Nugent seemed almost sympathetic to Boehner’s decision to oust him from Rules, given that its members are handpicked by the Speaker.

“It’s the Speaker’s committee. He has the absolute right to have those who he thinks he can trust and working in his favor. I think I’ve done that in the last four years,” Nugent said.

Nugent personally spoke with Boehner Wednesday evening about why he spurned the Speaker and the possibility of returning to Rules. The Florida Republican said he voted against Boehner in part because the leadership hasn't moved his bill to expand mental health services for people in the criminal justice system.

Cristina Marcos contributed.

The Speaker's Revenge

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a number of ways to retaliate against those who voted against him for Speaker.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.): Garrett is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee and has been chairman of its subcommittee on capital markets. He could lose his gavel.

Reps. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.): These defectors also could lose their seats on the influential Financial Services panel.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.): Rigell could lose his slot on the powerful Appropriations panel, which he was appointed to late last year.

Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa): Boehner personally raised cash and stumped for the freshman lawmaker. Blum now will almost certainly lose any help from the Speaker and his allies.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.): He could lose his seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure; Oversight; and Science, Space and Technology committees, but he says he doesn’t regret his vote.

Correction: This story was updated on Thursday to reflect that Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) only serves on the House Appropriations Committee. A previous version contained incorrect information.