John Boehner’s recent purge of conservatives Huelskamp, Amash, and Schweikert from prominent House Committees isn’t the first time honest Congressmen have been punished for fidelity to their constituents. (In the most recent Republican Conference meeting, Speaker Boehner has apparently threatened to purge additional Members who do not toe the line.) In 1995, Appropriations Chairman Bob Livingston, with the blessing of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich kicked Rep. Mark Neumann off the Appropriations Committee for voting against a leadership-sponsored bill.
I recently spoke to former Rep. Neumann about the situation, which he has been monitoring:
“In 1995, when I was kicked off the Appropriations Committee for voting my conscience and standing up for the Constitution, my fellow Freshman Republicans came to my aid and pressured Speaker Gingrich to repair the situation.
"My friend Rep. David McIntosh led the efforts to lobby Speaker Gingrich and put me back on the Committee.
"The 104th Class and our allies won the day, and I retained my seat on Appropriations and added to the Budget Committee. I believe that is the only time in our history that a first term Member of Congress has served on those two committees. Ultimately the fiscal "conservatives" standing together actually led to what would be considered a promotion.
"We changed the way things were done in Washington during that time. I sincerely hope the 112th Class will rally to the aid of fellow Members Amash, Schweikert, and Huelskamp like the conservatives did back in 1995. Washington will never balance its books if the more responsible Members are punished for following up their beliefs with action.” (Emphasis mine.)
After being kicked off, Neumann wrote a letter to his fellow freshmen about the event, stating in part, “If voting my conscience gets me kicked off committees, I’m sorry I only have one committee to get kicked off of.”
The New York Times wrote shortly after, “On Sept. 29, Representative Mark W. Neumann, a freshman Republican from Wisconsin, voted to defeat the $243 billion military appropriation. Mr. Neumann and other freshmen opposed the bill, in part, because it did not include Mr. Neumann's language restricting President Clinton from sending United States troops to Bosnia.
"As punishment, Mr. Livingston removed Mr. Neumann from the national security subcommittee. The result was a brief, but pointed revolt.
"The freshmen took their complaints over the treatment of Mr. Neumann directly to the Speaker. After threatening to withhold their support of the agriculture appropriations, they forced a compromise in which their previously chastised colleague emerged with a highly prized seat on the Budget Committee.”
Neumann is right. The freshman from the 112th Congress cannot stay silent while some of their most stalwart leaders are punished for the crime of fulfilling the duties of their office. FreedomWorks members, grassroots conservatives, the Members we worked to elect, and all of our allies need to keep the pressure not only on leadership, but also on the Congressmen who are foolishly choosing to remain silent while their colleagues are being railroaded. Our future depends on it.
Click here to tell Speaker Boehner to immediately restore these fiscal conservatives to their respective Committees.