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Huelskamp Sounds Off on Losing Committee Spots

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Huelskamp said his constituents are angry he was removed from two committees.

You know, we agree and disagree on a lot of things. But I am a conservative. Itís told to me, youíve been removed. And I said ĎWhy?í and they said, ĎWe canít tell you.í And thatís been the story for the last 10 days. We canít tell you why.

But weíve learned through other sources that apparently there was some type of secret scorecard, and you were conservative if you voted against the debt deal, for example. And if you voted against a number of the budget bills, you were scored down.

But I havenít found a single member of leadership thatís been able to tell me. They wonít even visit with me and numerous other folks. There were four of us that were punished and kicked off of preferred committees. Itís unprecedented in the modern Congress. Itís kind of back to the days in which a speaker ran it with an iron hand.

Q: What was your reaction when you got that phone call?

A: Well, actually, I was sitting in the hospital; my dad had just [moved into] his recovery from a major surgery. So itís probably not a good time to be calling me.

But, again, itís the frustration of trying to explain to constituents exactly why do you kick a fifth-generation farmer off the House Ag Committee. Kansas has had a seat on that committee for over 100 years. Weíve had two chairman, including Sen. Roberts, and everybodyís speechless, including staff of the committee, including other members.

[Agriculture is] by far the biggest industry in the 1st District of Kansas and we are the biggest producing ag district in the whole country. And so we have quite a right to be on that committee.

But near as we can tell, it had to do with certain votes and they said, ĎHey, if you didnít vote the way John Boehner decided you should vote, and Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor, youíre removed from that committee.í

We need someone who works for our values in Kansas, and theyíre significantly different than maybe the values of someone in the speakerís [district] in Ohio or the majority leaderís in Virginia or the majority whip in California.

I promised to fight for conservative values. I voted exactly like I said I would and will continue to fight. But to be punished, removed from two committees, is stunning. Itís also frightening because other members in a general meeting of the entire conference were warned as well that leadership is watching all of us.

Q: You would have expected to be warned that this might happen. Would there have been any threats?

A: Thatís probably the biggest surprise and biggest concern from my colleagues, whether theyíre actually conservative or not. Even Democrats ask, ĎYou mean they didnít tell you ahead of time?í

You know, you could try to tell other people how to vote. I mean, thatís called lobbying and thatís fine. But gosh darn, I have a voting card. And I have 700,000 constituents.

Q: Amash said that Speaker Boehner is no longer welcome in his district. Is the speaker welcome in your district?

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