A fourth U.S. House Republican has been punished by party leaders after siding against them on a preliminary vote on President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade legislation.
Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina was removed as chairman of a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, said committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. Meadows led the Government Operations subcommittee.
“I made a tough decision that I believe is in the best interest of the committee,” Chaffetz said in an e-mailed statement. “I think highly of Representative Meadows but a change needed to be made based on multiple factors.”
Meadows said in a statement Monday, “No one should be punished for voting their conscience and representing their constituents.” He said, “I didn’t run for Congress to be a yes vote for House Republican leadership.”
The move came less than a week after the third-ranking House Republican and chief vote-counter, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, removed three Republican lawmakers from his whip team. They were Representatives Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Trent Franks of Arizona.
The three lawmakers and Meadows were among 34 House Republicans who opposed a June 11 rule vote to advance Obama’s trade package, going against Speaker John Boehner and other House leaders who supported the measure. It would let Obama submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited up-or-down vote without amendments.
Also Monday, a conservative group, Heritage Action, released a statement critical of the punishments handed out by Republican leaders.
“Instead of working with conservatives, the Republican party leadership worked with Nancy Pelosi and then punished conservatives for not going along,” said Heritage Action chief executive officer Michael Needham, referring to the House minority leader, a California Democrat.
“Mark Meadows was right to stand by his constituents. For all the talk about ‘broadening the party’ it appears conservatives are now unwelcome,” Needham said.
While the June 11 vote narrowly advanced the trade bill, the measure stalled the next day for lack of votes from Republicans and Democrats. A fast-track bill eventually passed in a second vote held Thursday under a different procedure, and the Senate plans a preliminary vote Tuesday.
Pearce, Lummis and Frank were unapologetic last week after losing their roles on the whip-counting team.
“I came here to represent the people of the second congressional district of New Mexico,” Pearce said in a statement. “Sometimes that demands casting hard votes, as I did last week. I always strive to vote on principle and that won’t change.”
Some of the other 34 Republicans who voted against the June 11 procedural measure have kept their subcommittee leadership positions. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio remains chairman of the Oversight panel on health care, benefits and administrative rules, said committee spokeswoman M.J. Henshaw in an e-mail.
Henshaw didn’t explain why Jordan isn’t being removed as subcommittee chairman. Meadows’s successor as subcommittee leader hasn’t been announced, she said.
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