“Mr. Speaker, show us the scorecard.” That’s Republican Representative Justin Amash’s response to a letter he received from Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) explaining the libertarian-minded congressman’s summary dismissal from the House Budget Committee.
Last week, Amash and Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) were booted from the Budget Committee — likely a result of the two congressmen’s record of opposing the Speaker on key fiscal issues. Last year, for example, Huelskamp and Amash voted against raising the debt ceiling and are adamantly opposed to any tax increases. And earlier this year, Huelskamp and Amash cast the only House Budget Committee votes against Paul Ryan's budget plan that was the darling of Republicans, including Boehner.
The scorecard mentioned by Amash in his statement was reportedly a tally of Republican representatives’ votes used to measure how faithfully the members had toed the party line. As Amash explains on his Facebook page, he was told that he received a “0” on the as-yet-unreleased scorecard compiled by GOP leadership.
“Given my work with Democrats and Republicans on serious proposals to balance the budget, it is certain that the scorecard awarded points for supporting bigger deficits and more debt,” Amash wrote in response to the Speaker's letter.
According to sources cited by Roll Call, members of the Steering Committee “reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership.” Given Amash’s and Huelskamp’s record, it is likely their names ranked at the top of Boehner’s hit list.
Boehner heads the 34-member Steering Committee that includes members of House leadership, committee chairs, and other lawmakers selected from different regions of the country. After meeting last week, the group recommended Paul Ryan be returned to his seat as Budget Committee chairman.
It is easy to see, then, why Boehner could not allow Huelskamp and Amash to sit on a committee whose chairman they alone had the courage to oppose. Once again, the GOP demonstrates that when it comes to leadership decisions, party is given priority over principle.
Two other conservative lawmakers also received committee assignment pink slips last Tuesday: Representatives David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) were kicked off the Financial Services Committee.
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Photo of Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.): AP Images