Republicans boot Francis Rooney from GOP Steering Committee

House Republicans ousted retiring Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyRepublicans boot Francis Rooney from GOP Steering Committee Pelosi extends proxy voting into mid-August What to do about our culture of division and partisanship? 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. ComerRepublicans boot Francis Rooney from GOP Steering Committee Comer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight This week: Democrats set to move health care, infrastructure proposals with eye on November 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 ArringtonRepublicans boot Francis Rooney from GOP Steering Committee House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought GOP lawmaker boasts 'overwhelming bipartisan support' for USMCA trade deal 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 John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' 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 BidenTucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Joe Biden wins New Jersey primary Biden wins Delaware primary MORE in November.