June 23, 2015|
Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Monday in a radio interview that many conservatives were “fed up” with the string of punishment meted out to members who don’t vote in line with the Republican leadership on key legislation.
The latest punishment was handed down to Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., for voting against an important procedural resolution to advance “Fast Track” trade legislation the GOP is eager to pass. Meadows last week was stripped of his chairmanship of the House Oversight Government Operations subcommittee. “So, Mark Meadows, a good man, a good friend, and what they did to him is exactly wrong, and there are a number of us who are fed up with it,” Jordan said on the Laura Ingraham show. “And we are looking for ways that we can say, hey, we are going to stay with Mark and be as helpful as we possibly can.”
It’s not clear what the frustrated group could do to thwart Boehner, but some are kicking around the idea of trying to slow the work of the House. Freedom Caucus members say that while they number a little more than three dozen, there are an additional 20 conservatives who could potentially vote along with them if they decided to take a stand against the leadership by making it difficult to pass legislation. Republicans control 246 votes, and on legislation that lacks Democratic support, the leadership can only afford to lose 29 Republicans.
Anger at the leadership has been brewing for many months, as the GOP retribution against disobedient conservatives appears to have escalated;
- Just last week, Reps. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, and Trent Franks of Arizona, lost their posts on the Republican whip team for voting along with Meadows against advancing the trade legislation.
- Earlier this year, Republican leaders booted Reps. Daniel Webster and Richard Nugent, both of Florida, from the powerful Rules Committee after they voted against John Boehner for a third term as speaker.
- In the last Congress, Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., Walter Jones, R-N.C., and David Schweikert, R-Ariz., were tossed from committees after voting against the leadership.
- Meadows told the Washington Examiner the move to strip him of his subcommittee chairmanship was made by Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, but came at the direction of Boehner, R-Ohio.
“I think it was an action meant to try to humiliate or intimate me, but I wear it as a badge of honor, standing firm for freedom for the American people,” Meadows told the Examiner.
Republican leadership aides say the GOP is not striking back in a punitive manner, but places a high value on loyalty from the members and gives top posts to those who don’t buck the Speaker on certain measures, such as resolutions to advance legislation for debate. Lawmakers who are being punished say the leadership is trying to force them to vote against what they believe is best for their constituents, who have flooded their offices with calls and emails in opposition to the trade legislation. Meadows and other Republicans opposed to the trade bill believe the trade bill would cede too much power to the executive branch and would facilitate trade deals that would cause U.S. job losses.
“There is no honor in bowing to a bully,” Meadows told the Examiner. “There is only fighting the good fight and whether you win or lose, I am willing to do my best to represent the people who elected me.”