House GOP leadership stripped four conservative representatives of committee posts this week, leaving some on the Hill to wonder if House Speaker John Boehner might have fired a warning shot to members who could unsettle a potential fiscal cliff compromise.
Our National Journal Daily colleagues Ben Terris and Billy House report:
[That is] not the case, insist aides to top GOP leaders, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. They say these four cases represent a range of factors that led to the punitive actions, such as Budget Committee members not voting for the committee chairman’s budget plan, or someone voting too often against leadership on other bills.
But some conservatives aren’t buying that, including a few who were hit by the punishments. Boehner over the past two years has been unable to hold his conference together on many controversial issues, leaving him scrambling for Democratic votes to avert government shutdowns or avoid an unprecedented federal default. But now, some suddenly see a new, tougher strategy to avoid future embarrassments...
Whether it’s about being too conservative, or too combative, or just not playing nice with leadership, the timing of all this does suggest, in fact, that it could affect the fiscal-cliff negotiations going forward. The news of the purges came the same day as the speaker’s counteroffer to President Obama’s proposal, one that called for $800 billion in revenues and had some conservative groups howling. It’s an issue that is sure to divide the GOP conference.
Already, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the leader of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus in the House, said he could not support the counteroffer because it included new taxes.
Subscribers can read more here.