All four lawmakers had voted against the summer 2011 deal negotiated between Republican leaders and President Barack Obama for extending the government’s ability to borrow money in exchange for $1 trillion in spending cuts and the promise of another $1 trillion in reduced deficits. Three of the four, the exception being Schweikert, voted against the Ryan-written GOP budget blueprint that the House passed last March.
Their removal from key committees with jurisdiction over the two issues was viewed by some as a signal to other Republican lawmakers to look favorably on whatever final deal Boehner and Obama put together to avert a “fiscal cliff” combination of automatic tax increases and spending cuts in January.
“If it was intended to be a signal, it’s going to be a weak signal because the majority of conservatives are going to do what they think is right based on principle,” Jones said.
Amash said he has not been told specifically why he was removed, only that it was not based on his votes and that he should go talk to leadership. He said he voted with the Budget Committee’s leadership 95 percent of the time. He said the move is likely to make him more independent in the future.
“Being nice to leadership and playing well with them doesn’t pay off,” Amash said. “They expect a near total agreement with their approach.”
The changes in committee assignments could bring about more discipline from the GOP on high-priority issues next Congress, but conservatives were taking the news as an attack on their priorities.
“As the sun rises this morning we can look at John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy and know the opposition is not just across the aisle, but in charge of our own side in the House of Representatives,” Erick Erickson wrote on the conservative website, RedState. “All the time and energy I would otherwise have to spend to convince conservatives that these gentlemen would be a problem for the GOP has been spared. They’ve proven it themselves.”