Tensions grow between Republican leadership and House conservatives

By Sarah Gonzalez

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2012-  After the Republican Steering Committee made assignments that included ousting Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp from the House Agriculture Committee, conservative lawmakers discussed the “scorecard” they believe House leadership is keeping during a press meeting on Wednesday. 

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Huelskamp reminded press members that he holds a Ph.D in agricultural economics, yet he was removed from the agriculture committee even though “they expect me to vote my principles,” he said, adding that “it's about politics, it's about personalities.”

“The only reason I was removed from the committee was to send a message,” Huelskamp said. “And I'm not going to vote to raise taxes. I took that pledge for my constituents.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded to questions about the committee removals Monday, saying “there is no scorecard or any other single criteria used to determine committee assignments.”

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., a freshman of the 112th, reiterated accusations of a “scorecard” of votes held by the House leadership. Amash said he was informed that he received a zero on the scorecard.

“We were sent here to represent the vast majority of Americans who want us to balance our budget,” he said. “Now we learn there's a scorecard and if you voted too much in favor of balancing the budget, for limiting government, then you were given negative scores.”

He insisted that neither side of the aisle is demonstrating any willingness to make the proper changes to address more than $16 trillion in national debt.  “The problem right now is there's not a deal from either side even close to where we want it,” he said, adding that both the president's and the speaker's proposals would still increase the debt by more than $8 trillion.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., also in attendance at today's conservative meeting, said he appreciates that Boehner is in a “tough position.”  However, he added that “when conservatives vote according to their principles, the leadership punishes them. In this town, there's no accountability except if you're conservative and you stick to your principles.” 

Regarding willingness to compromise, Rep. Raul Labrador said he would be willing to make sacrifices, perhaps about tax rates, if the president presents “a real plan to get us out of this fiscal mess.”

Noting it would be “ridiculous for any Republican to accept an increase in tax rates without any spending cuts,” he added that “I want to see real cuts. We're negotiating with ourselves and making ourselves look silly when we have real problems and no leadership from the White House.”


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