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Republicans boot Francis Rooney from GOP Steering Committee

House Republicans ousted retiring Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyGrowing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Lawmakers express concern about lack of young people in federal workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Today: Vaccine distribution starts, Electoral College meets. 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. ComerHouse GOP raise concerns over Biden's top Cabinet nominees Sackler family points fingers at Purdue Pharma during House hearing on opioids Republicans press FBI for briefing on efforts by Chinese government operatives to gain influence with lawmakers 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 ArringtonREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it 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.

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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.

“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 TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire 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 BidenWoman accused of trying to sell Pelosi laptop to Russians arrested Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Trump moves to lift coronavirus travel restrictions on Europe, Brazil MORE in November.