There was confusion over whether McCarthy was supposed to address a Republican Study Committee meeting Wednesday to explain in more detail why certain GOP members lost their committee assignments recently.
“What I tried to explain to them was, it didn’t have anything to do with your voting record, a scorecard, your work across the street or anything else. It had to do with your ability to work within the system and to try to work. And to be, I guess, constructive in things. And I said, ‘I guess you could say it was an asshole factor,’” Westmoreland said. “Now I wasn’t calling any member in particular an asshole, I was just trying to describe an environment where some people that you’re trying to work with, they just don’t want to work within the system.”
Westmoreland later expressed regret for using that language, saying, “Maybe I should have used ‘obstinate factor.’”
The steering committee reviewed a spreadsheet listing how members voted on key bills. But Westmoreland said that information was not a deciding, or even important, part of the consideration.
“Look, if we kicked people off of committees based on the information that was given, I wouldn’t be on an ‘A’ committee. There are several people in the steering committee that wouldn’t be on ‘A’ committees,” Westmoreland said.
He also praised Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina specifically. “I love Walter Jones; he’s one of the nicest, most sincere, honest people up here,” Westmoreland said.
Jones, the lone moderate among the four lawmakers removed from their committee assignments, came under fire from leadership for criticizing the GOP from the left.
Indeed, Fleming said the argument is convincing and that it is becoming more apparent that the members were removed for actions that constituted “friendly fire,” or directing rhetorical barbs at members of their own party.
“There have been several members to stand up and say, ‘You know, I kind of agree with leadership. You said some things that was a problem for me,’” he said. “There have been members and leadership who feel that it’s one thing to vote and even message what you feel, but don’t hurt your colleagues and don’t hurt your leadership in doing that. In other words, don’t go out and use other members who are supposed to be part of your army and make them the target of your rhetoric as well.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.