Republicans boot Francis Rooney from GOP Steering Committee

House Republicans ousted retiring Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyPricing carbon can help solve the infrastructure funding dilemma Allies of GOP leader vow to oust Liz Cheney Republican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC MORE (R-Fla.) from the GOP Steering Committee, with several lawmakers voicing frustrations that he has not been at the Capitol for votes in the past four months.

Rooney's removal from the powerful panel — which is tasked with determining committee assignments for GOP lawmakers — came Monday ahead of a meeting to select the new ranking member for the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerTop House Democrat presses Senate to take up watchdog bill House passes bill to strengthen authority of federal watchdogs Overnight Health Care: Fauci urges vaccination to protect against Delta variant | White House: 'Small fraction' of COVID-19 vaccine doses will be unused MORE (R-Ky.).

According to sources with knowledge of the closed-door meeting, Rooney was aware the gathering was taking place but opted not to participate, with Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) unable to reach him despite several phone calls.

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“Francis has been MIA here for quite some time,” one senior GOP lawmaker told The Hill. “The group tried to have him join via telephone to discuss the issue as there was an upcoming steering committee meeting — but Francis no-showed. So, they voted to replace him.”

The lawmakers voted for Rep. Jodey ArringtonJodey Cook ArringtonMcCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel The case for improving America's research and experimentation tax credit Republicans attack Biden agenda after disappointing jobs report MORE (R-Texas) to replace Rooney on the 31-member panel.

Another steering committee member described Rooney as being “checked out for awhile.”

Rooney, a two-term lawmaker, declined to respond directly to the criticism.

“Issues relating to the steering committee are supposed to be confidential, which is why I have no comment,” he said in a statement.

But he told The Hill he was proud to have served as a representative on the panel for other GOP lawmakers in their second term.

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“I was honored to be asked by my sophomore class to represent them on the committee that makes decisions about the committee assignments and the leadership of the committee,” he told The Hill.

“We recently had the vote on the leadership of Oversight and Reform and again it's a tremendous honor that my class would have the confidence in me that I would be their advocate,” he added.

Since announcing his retirement in October, Rooney has ruffled GOP feathers at times by breaking with the party on several key issues. Most recently, he designated Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) to serve as his proxy for floor votes — a system the House GOP has repeatedly railed against — but ultimately did not follow through.

Rooney has also been vocal in his criticisms of President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE. He was one of the only House GOP lawmakers to express an openness to impeaching Trump last year. Since then, he said he is considering voting for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Former New York state Senate candidate charged in riot MORE in November.