GOP reinstates punished lawmaker

Facing enormous blowback, Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Thursday reversed course and said he was reinstating Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) as a subcommittee chairman.

Chaffetz stripped Meadows of his subcommittee gavel last week after the congressman joined nearly three dozen other conservatives in voting against leadership on a procedural motion that nearly scuttled a major trade package.

{mosads}Last week’s move was part of a pattern of punishment targeting conservatives who have defied leadership on important votes.

But Chaffetz, the new Oversight chairman, soon came under heavy fire from prominent voices on the right, including Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who’s running for president.

In a tweet, Levin called Chaffetz “a sanctimonious fraud.”

By Thursday, Chaffetz had backpedaled, saying that a number of colleagues had urged him to reconsider his decision.

“Having spoken with Mark Meadows several times during the past week, I think we both better understand each other. I respect Mark and his approach. The discussions and candor have been healthy and productive,” Chaffetz said in a statement.

“Ultimately, I believe we both want to do what is best for the country. Obviously I believe in Mark Meadows or I would not have appointed him to this position in the first place. It is in the best interest of the Committee to move forward together.”

Chaffetz’s decision follows a separate move by the House GOP freshman class, which on Thursday morning decided against stripping Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) of his title as class president.

Earlier in the week, Meadows had been defiant, threatening that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus might band together to block leadership-backed bills from reaching the floor or even try to oust Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) from power.

After Chaffetz’s reversal Thursday, Meadows vowed to work with the chairman, though he stressed that he would continue to vote in the best interests of his district.

“I greatly appreciate Chairman Jason Chaffetz’ willingness to reconsider his decision, as well as my Oversight and Government Reform Committee colleagues’ support,” Meadows said in a statement.

“I will continue to vote and conduct myself in accordance with my conscience, what my constituents want me to do, and what is best for the country.”

— This story was updated at 12:51 p.m.  

Tags Jason Chaffetz Ken Buck Mark Meadows
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