Booted from plum committee seats, three GOP reps want answers
By Gregory Wallace, CNN
(CNN) — Three Republican lawmakers who say they were removed from committee assignments without explanation fired off a letter to House Speaker John Boehner on Friday demanding answers.
“After learning of our removal, it came to our attention that a scorecard was presented to the Steering Committee to make the case for our removal from those committees,” the freshmen lawmakers wrote.
Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona had served on the Financial Services Committee. His colleagues Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas sat on the Budget Committee.
They say a scorecard of votes was used to determine whether they would return to their committee posts in the next legislative session.
“After learning of our removal, it came to our attention that a scorecard was presented to the Steering Committee to make the case for our removal from those committees,” their letter read. “On Wednesday morning, Mr. Huelskamp stood before the House Republican Conference and asked to see a copy of the scorecard used to remove us.”
Some have suggested their reassignments were in response to the members’ willingness to buck party leadership.
A request for comment from Boehner’s office on Saturday was not immediately returned.
Amash, Huelskamp and Schweikert also objected to the manner in which they learned of the news.
“I learned through news reports. So I started to hear the word on Monday and didn’t hear anything from leadership Monday, Tuesday,” Amash said Friday on CNN’s “Starting Point,” adding that on Wednesday he began to ask for answers.
Asked if he had been “trying to embarrass” the House Republican leadership during the past legislative session, Amash insisted “that’s totally ridiculous.”
“There are people like me in Congress who are out there representing the vast majority of Americans who want us to balance our budget. It’s not a matter of who is willing to work with Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “It’s about whether people are serious about getting things done to balance our budget.”
Amash wouldn’t say whether he would support Boehner’s re-election as House speaker.
“Well right now I’m not very happy with the speaker. So let’s see what happens over the next several weeks,” he said.
The three members requested that Boehner provide an explanation for their removal by Monday.
Huelskamp won the seat of a retiring Republican in 2010 and was previously in headlines in the final days of December 2011 when he considered objecting to a last-minute deal to extend the payroll tax cut. At the time, he described it as the Republican House having “caved yet again to the president and Senate Democrats.”
He and many lawmakers had already returned home for the holidays, and the measure passed the House by unanimous consent. “Problem was, by the time we were notified that the unanimous consent agreement would be offered, where I come from in Kansas, I can’t get to Washington quick enough on this short notice,” he said on CNN.
Amash also won the seat of a retiring Republican in 2010, while Schweikert defeated an incumbent Democrat to win his seat.
— CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report