Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R- Fowler) said Wednesday that he still has no answers as to why he was sent packing from two key committees this week.
The GOP congressman, who represents Kansas' 1st District, said his being removed from both the House Agriculture and House Budget committees was a disgrace to people in the 1st district, especially because, according to Huelskamp, the agricultural panel has included a Kansan for 151 years.
Huelskamp called the move "petty, vindictive politics" during a media conference call Wednesday. He blasted the 30-member House Steering Committee which he described as likely never having been to western Kansas for not giving a specific reason for his removal. Along with Huelskamp, Justin Amash of Michigan will lose his seat on the House Budget Committee. Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona are set to lose their seats on the House Financial Services Committee as well.
"I learned a long time ago that if not one person has the courage to come out and say why they did it to you, they're embarrassed of what they did," Huelskamp said.
According to an article by the Associated Press, the move underscores a divide in the Republican Party between tea party-supported conservatives and House GOP leadership. Huelskamp said in the conference call that leadership had a list of people who didn't vote with them on key issues, including raising the federal debt limit, and they were punished. Thus far, his only shred of an explanation is that he didn't vote with House Speaker John Boehner on key votes over the past two years.
This week's change marks the second time in the past decade that Republican leadership removed Huelskamp from key committees over conflicting political views.
In 2003, then state Senate President Dave Kerr removed Huelskamp from the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which writes the Kansas budget. Huelskamp acknowledged he was not a team player and said he was being punished for bucking moderate-GOP leaders. They argued he wasn't productive on the committee.
"What happened in Topeka is very similar to what happened in Washington, D.C.," Huelskamp said. "People go behind closed doors. They don't talk to your constituents. They don't care about your constituents."
Huelskamp said another Kansas Republican, was working behind the scenes to sort out the changes and committee assignments. Roberts is the ranking minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Huelskamp ended by saying the message leadership intended to send his colleagues by punishing the four ousted members is not the message that was received. He said punishing someone because of the way they vote is a bad decision.
"It's just raw, crass political power," he said.