A conservative group that wants to depose Speaker of the House John Boehner from his post as the leader of the Republican Party in the House is targeting more junior members of the House who have “little to lose” in the way of committee chairmanships, and asking them not to vote for him in January.
The group, American Majority Action, has said Boehner is not conservative enough, and that the removal of several conservative members from their respective committees earlier this week was the final straw.
Boehner has said it was an issue of loyalty, but conservatives have labeled the removal a purge, saying that those members were removed because they were too conservative.
AMA says Boehner can be removed from his post if 16 Republicans do not vote for him to be House speaker in January, leaving him one vote shy of the number necessary to be re-elected as speaker.
The list of 150 members that the group is targeting is comprised of incoming freshmen, congressmen from the class of 2010 and Republican Study Committee members. AMA is asking activists to write letters or emails asking them to abstain from voting in the speaker election in January.
Some RSC members are noticeably missing from the list, like former RSC Chair Jeb Hensarling and Rep. Paul Ryan.
Ryan is a member of the House leadership and chairs the Budget Committee. Hensarling is the incoming chairman of the Financial Services Committee. They would be in danger of losing their chairmanships, if they were to buck leadership in such a flagrant way, and would therefore be unlikely to do so.
Ron Meyer, spokesmen for AMA, explained: “We don’t want activists to waste time on members who have too much skin in the game.”
The more “junior members” on the list, he said, “have less to lose.”
He acknowledged that those members could still lose committee assignments, as Reps. David Schweikert, Tim Huelskamp, Justin Amash and Walter Jones learned earlier this week. “Hence why they haven’t opposed him in the caucus,” Meyer said.
“The point is, none of them are close to becoming chairs,” Meyer explained. “Most RSC members are also on the list. It’s supposedly the conservative caucus, so its member shouldn’t support tax hikes or purging conservatives.”
Meyer said that “Conservatives should have the freedom to pick their own leaders.” He called the current system flawed, describing it as “seniority-based” and “threats-based.”