North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows has been booted from one of his subcommittee chairmanships for defying the Republican leadership on a procedural vote on fast track trade authority taken last week in the House.
There were 34 Republicans who voted against the procedural motion — including several subcommittee chairman — who have not been disciplined for their actions. Clearly, Speaker Boehner was in a mood to set an example and put the fear of God into those conservatives challenging his leadership.
On June 11, 34 Republicans voted against the rule that allowed for consideration of President Barack Obama’s request for fast-track authority to negotiate the largest trade deal in history. Conservatives said Boehner and GOP leaders were working too closely with Democrats, and ignoring Republicans. Boehner said he has worked closely with conservatives. In a closed meeting this week, the speaker told rank-and-file Republicans that he was angry that conservatives were voting against the motions. The GOP leadership has told lawmakers that there will be ramifications for voting against such resolutions.
Meadows was one of the 34 lawmakers who voted against the motion. Chaffetz said there were a “variety of factors” that led to him losing his chairmanship of the Government Operations subcommittee.
“I’m just going to leave it at that,” he said, when asked about the other factors. “There were a variety of factors, but I did what I felt was in the best interest of the oversight committee.”
Chaffetz said he this was his decision, not the Republican leadership’s.
Many subcommittee chairs voted against that resolution, and have not been punished. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus, chairs an oversight subcommittee that oversees health care, benefits and administrative rules. He has not lost his chairmanship.
Others who voted against that rule include: New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett, who chairs the Financial Services subcommittee which oversees capital markets and government-sponsored enterprises; Louisiana Rep. John Fleming holds the gavel of a Natural Resources subcommittee which oversees water, power and oceans; Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert is the chairman of the oversight panel on Natural Resources; Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming chairs the interior subcommittee on Oversight.
Boehner has apparently had enough opposition from conservatives on these procedural votes. Historically, the vote to bring a bill to the floor falls along party lines. But two or three dozen conservatives have been defying Boehner, claiming he’s too close to the Democrats or he doesn’t consult them.
They aren’t just opposing Boehner; they are humiliating him. A speaker who can’t control his own caucus on procedural matters is as impotent as they come. Hence, Boehner probably took great relish in dropping the hammer on Meadows.
Chafetz will continue to pretend this was all his idea, but conservatives know full well who’s behind it. But if Boehner thinks this will make his life any easier, he’s probably mistaken. If anything, these kinds of punitive actions make it more likely that the pushback will intensify.
And the speaker’s enemies list is going to grow as well.