Two Republicans who were kicked off key congressional committees because of their voting patterns against leadership positions, say a revolt may be growing within the GOP House conference among conservatives upset with Speaker John Boehner.
"I think there's a lot of unrest right now," Michigan Rep. Justin Amash told Fox News' Sean Hannity Thursday night.
"The speaker may have miscalculated here, thinking it is just going to be a few of us concerned about it. But it's clear he made a threat to the rest of the conference," he continued, referring to a Republican meeting on Wednesday in which he said Boehner threatened to remove other GOP members from panels if they do not fall in line on budget negotiations and other issues.
"People aren't taking that very well," Amash added, painting a different picture from the one portrayed by many GOP members Thursday, suggesting the speaker has been given complete authority to negotiate on behalf of the conference with President Barack Obama.
"I've heard from people high up in the ranks who are saying, look, this is not the right way to run a conference. I think this is going to backfire on Speaker Boehner, and people who run a conference like this have to be very careful," said Amash, who was booted off the Budget Committee.
He insisted that he was elected to slash government spending, not to do the bidding of the Republican leadership.
Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who was kicked off the Agriculture Committee, agreed with Amash that many conservatives within the GOP ranks "are outraged" at the idea that members could be punished for voting against leadership positions.
"The vote is sacred. I mean we don't turn that over to anybody in Washington," he told Hannity, adding that he had voted against a number of leadership budgets because they didn't cut spending enough.
"That's where I've been most critical, where we are headed in Washington, but that's why I ran," he said. "My folks sent me up to change Washington, before it changes me, and now we get punished by getting taken off committees that are very important to Kansas."
Huelskamp accused Boehner and other GOP leaders of keeping a list of votes to gauge the level of support for leadership positions and bills. He called it a "litmus test" to determine loyalty.
Several congressmen asked to see the list at the conference meeting on Wednesday, but Huelskamp says their request was "ignored."
"I will bet that the reason they don't want to show it — I think it's pretty obvious — that if you were fiscally responsible, you were docked on the scorecard," Amash said.
Huelskamp said it was fine for House Republicans to "disagree on strategy and tactics."
"But we can't disagree on the fact we are spending too much money in Washington," he added. "We are about to jump over a fiscal cliff, and we have the $16.3 trillion debt, and [Republican leaders] are focused on a few people who point out the problem."
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