To keep conservative rebels in check, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: The next Republican wave is coming Rift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power 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.
But several Tea Party targets haven’t gone quietly. They’ve been fighting back with help from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan’s conservative House Freedom Caucus, which successfully pressured leaders this week to return a subcommittee gavel to one of their members.
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 WebsterDaniel Alan WebsterLaura Loomer says she's tested positive for COVID-19 How Donald Rumsfeld helped save the presidency Gun deaths surge in Iowa ahead of loosened handgun restrictions MORE and Rich NugentRichard (Rich) B. NugentRepublicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers Republicans fear retribution for joining immigration revolt Former aide will run to replace lawmaker MORE 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 KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingPressure grows to remove Boebert from committees Kevin McCarthy is hostage to the GOP's 'exotic wing' McCarthy laments distractions from far-right members MORE (Iowa), Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoOcasio-Cortez: Gosar so weak he 'couldn't open a pickle jar' Rep. Gosar posts anime video showing him striking Biden, Ocasio-Cortez Will America fight for Taiwan? MORE (Fla.) and Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertCrenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' GOP Rep. Clyde racks up K in mask fines Jan. 6 organizers used burner phones to communicate with White House: report 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 Marie LummisLobbyists turn to infrastructure law's implementation Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Holiday season poses major test for Biden economy MORE (Wyo.), Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Arizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems MORE (Ariz.) and Steve PearceStevan (Steve) Edward PearceNew Mexico Democrat releases final Spanish-language ad in toss-up race Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate New Mexico Dems brace for crowded race to succeed Udall MORE (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 MeadowsMark MeadowsJan. 6 panel threatens Meadows with contempt Trump considered withdrawing Kavanaugh nomination over beer comments, being 'too apologetic': Meadows book Meadows reverses, won't agree to Jan. 6 panel deposition MORE (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 BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckSununu exit underscores uncertain GOP path to gain Senate majority Matt Stoller: Amazon's Bezos likely lied under oath before Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE 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 JonesWalter JonesHillary Clinton brings up 'Freedom Fries' to mock 'cancel culture' Georgia officials open inquiry into Trump efforts to overturn election results Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising MORE (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 HuelskampTimothy (Tim) Alan HuelskampManchin may be the only one who can save the Hyde Amendment Democratic-linked group runs ads in Kansas GOP Senate primary Cure for cancer would become more likely if FDA streamlined the drug approval process MORE (Kan.), David SchweikertDavid SchweikertDemocrat says 'temporary' inflation will have lasting impact on small businesses Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection We must address the declining rate of startup business launches MORE (Ariz.) and Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance Vietnam shadow hangs over Biden decision on Afghanistan Kamala Harris and our shameless politics 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 WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberGOP leader's marathon speech forces House Democrats to push vote McCarthy delays swift passage of spending plan with record-breaking floor speech New group of GOP lawmakers file articles of impeachment against Biden 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.