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Sunday, December 4, 2016

On Monday, quietly but unmistakably, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) began to put the Tea Party in its place — which is apparently not on important House committees.

Right-wing sites like Red State are in an uproar because a bunch of “squishes” (aka moderates) have been named to “Super A” House committees like Ways and Means, Appropriations and Energy. Meanwhile, diehard Tea Partiers like David Schweikert (R-AZ), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and Justin Amash (R-MI) were removed from their choice assignments.

Huelskamp and Amash had the audacity to vote against the budget of House Budget Committee chair and right-wing demigod Paul Ryan (R-WI). Their votes also couldn’t be counted on for negotiated compromises like this year’s continuing resolution.

Typically, Housemembers are only removed from committees because of scandals. But the scandal here is that Boehner seems to be intent on taking control of his caucus by sending a message.

That message?

“You want good things in Congress and to have a good career? Better play along nicely,” a GOP aide told Roll Call.

The Club for Growth, which funds Republicans with uncompromising far-right positions on cutting spending and lowering taxes, remarked that the leadership’s move sets the members free. “We expect that these three defenders of economic freedom will become even bolder in their efforts to defend the taxpayers against the big spenders in both parties,” Club for Growth president Chris Chocola said in a press release.

Red State’s Daniel Horowitz points out that those members newly appointed to the A-level committees had low scores from right-wing groups like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

And FreedomWorks sent an email blast to its members calling on them to tell Speaker Boehner to “stop purging fiscal conservatives.” By Tuesday afternoon, the group had introduced a new hashtag: #PurgeBoehner.

Is this politics as usual where members get punished for not playing the game, or is something bigger afoot?

Republicans know they’re losing the ongoing debate about the so-called fiscal cliff. Speaker Boehner’s counteroffer was blasted by Americans for Prosperity, while right-wing journalists who spent the last year telling us how Mitt Romney would win are now increasingly critical of Republican tactics.

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