The Boehner purge?

It looks as if Speaker John Boehner is purging a few of the more independent conservative voices in Congress by yanking them off important committees.

Roll Call:

John A. Boehner initiated today a small purge of rebellious Republicans - mostly conservatives - from prominent committees; it's the latest instance of the Ohio Republican's clamping down on his fractious conference.

The decisions were made by the GOP Steering Committee at a Monday meeting, which reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership, three sources said.

Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were booted from the Financial Services Committee. Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas were removed from the Budget Committee.

According to a source, Schweikert was told that he was ousted in part because his "votes were not in lockstep with leadership."

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said, "The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors."

One GOP leadership aide said, "Changes are made for a variety of reasons, most often at the request of committee chairs."

Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, an outspoken conservative, was placed on the Financial Services Committee, something that a second leadership aide noted to demonstrate that voting record was not the only reason behind the changes.

All of the lawmakers other than Jones were rebellious right-wingers. Huelskamp and Amash, for instance, both voted against the budget proposed by Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin in committee and on the floor, because it did not cut spending fast enough. They also voted against the current continuing resolution that is funding the government through the end of March.

The moves sparked a quick backlash, with Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham calling Schweikert's ouster "unthinkable."

Being a conservative maverick by breaking with your party over budget matters will not get you a glowing write up in the Washington Post or New York Times. Nor, apparently, will it help your congressional career much. Boehner is cracking the whip because he needs all hands on deck to fend off the assault by Democrats in the next two years. A unified caucus is imperative and Boehner feels it necessary to put the rebels in their plac, regardless of how much the Republican base objects.

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