House GOP freshmen once threatened Newt’s Speakership over purge and won

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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In case you missed it, conservatives are outraged because Republican leadership kicked several conservative Members off of key committees. This, of course, has happened before. In the 1990s, Rep. Mark Neumann was kicked off the appropriations committee for standing up to GOP leadership.

As former Rep. Joe Scarborough told me yesterday, Neumann “voted against one of Bob Livingston’s appropriations bills — and he was taken off the committee.”

“And all the freshman” — Scarborough continued — “we all signed a letter saying: ‘Put him back on the committee or we’re going to vote against every bill you send up.”

“When I was kicked off the committee for similar reasons [as recent House Members], I was quickly reinstated because my freshman colleagues and the conservative movement united and jumped to my defense,” Neumann confirmed to me in an email.

“Now is the time for conservatives who are concerned with out of control spending to say to GOP leadership — ‘enough is enough, we are uniting behind these principled conservative congressmen,'” he added.

That’s basically what happened in the 90s.

“We demanded a meeting with Gingrich, former Arizona Rep. John Shadegg recalled, “and we met on the porch outside [Speaker Newt] Gingrich’s office. And we said, ‘ you have to put him back on — and you have to put him back on before the sun sets — or we can’t guarantee you’re going to be Speaker tomorrow.”

“Gingrich could count,” Shadegg said. “He knew we could have gone to the Democrats — the blue dogs — and said, ‘Let’s figure out a compromise and come up with a new Speaker.”

Ironically, in the end, Neumann stayed on appropriations and was also assigned to Budget. “I believe that is the only time in our history that a first term member of Congress has served on those two committees,” Neumann added. “Ultimately the ‘conservatives’ standing together actually led to what would be considered a promotion.”

“More importantly,” he added, “it was a small part of the bigger picture of negotiations that lead to the balanced budget.  I sincerely hope they stand together again.”

Matt K. Lewis