Politics & Government

Huelskamp, other GOP rebels say Republican leadership punished them for vote against Boehner

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, 1st District, talks about his controversial votes and the effect his brand of defiance is having on a divided Republican Party in a gridlocked House of Representatives.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, 1st District, talks about his controversial votes and the effect his brand of defiance is having on a divided Republican Party in a gridlocked House of Representatives. MCT

Payback time apparently has begun against House Republicans who didn’t support John Boehner’s re-election as speaker.

Congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that GOP leadership punished him for opposing Boehner by denying him the chairmanship of a subcommittee he had hoped to lead.

Huelskamp said in an interview Wednesday that he learned he would not be appointed to head a Veterans Affairs subcommittee about an hour after he tweeted that he would not vote for Boehner. Huelskamp, who represents Kansas’ “Big First” district, said that while he hadn’t been promised the position, he believes he would have been given the chairmanship had he voted for to re-elect the speaker.

“If you vote contrary to the speaker it’s unlikely you’re going to receive anything they would consider a reward,” said Huelskamp.

A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, said the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Jeff Miller of Florida, makes his own decisions about his subcommittee chairmen. He declined to comment further.

Boehner won a third term as speaker on Tuesday despite the defections of Huelskamp and 24 other House Republicans.

Reps. Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent of Florida were stripped of their seats on the House Rules Committee after voting against Boehner.

Webster and Nugent weren’t on the committee roster that was approved by unanimous consent on the House floor Tuesday. Both were committee members in the 113th Congress.

Webster ran against Boehner Tuesday and received 12 votes. Nugent and Huelskamp both voted for Webster.

When asked whether the removal of Webster and Nugent from the committee was punishment for not backing Boehner, Doug Andres, a committee spokesman, said in an email ‘Yes. Rep. Nugent and Rep. Webster are no longer on the Rules Committee roster.’

The Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, reported that Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, accused Boehner of using “intimidation tactics” against his foes.

“Boehner kicked Webster and Nugent off Rules Committee 4 voting against Boehner. No room for intimidation tactics. I stand w/them,” King said in a tweet.

This isn’t the first time Huelskamp has complained about retaliation for defying Republican leadership. The tea-party-backed conservative from Western Kansas lost his seats on the House Agriculture and Budget committees in 2012 after he refused to toe the party line on key votes.

Media reports initially had listed Huelskamp among Boehner’s supporters this time around, but Huelskamp on Tuesday denied that he had planned to vote for Boehner.

“It was a misunderstanding,” he said.

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