U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R–N.C., has been removed from the chairmanship of a House subcommittee after he opposed the House Republican leadership on a trade vote.
House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah., removed Meadows over the weekend from his position as chairman of the committee’s government operations subcommittee. Chaffetz was quoted as taking responsibility for the decision, but declining to spell out why. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“My voting card belongs to the people of Western North Carolina & I will continue to listen to their voices regardless of the consequences,” Meadows tweeted on Monday.
The Glenville Republican wasn’t the only House conservative who was rebuked. Last week House Republican leaders removed Reps. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and Trent Franks, R-Ariz., from the whip team. They and Meadows were among 34 Republicans who voted against a procedural motion on June 11 that paved the way for a vote on giving President Barack Obama fast-track trade authority. Republican leaders support the trade deal, so the rejection of their policy by these Republicans was an embarrassment.
“There is a culture of fear and retribution that is prevalent here on Capitol Hill. It encourages people to vote certain ways, it encourages people not to speak out,” Meadows said in an interview with Roll Call, according to a report in the Washington political news outlet on Monday.
Chaffetz had appointed Meadows chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee in December. The panel has jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and public sector unions and the Executive Office of the President.
On Tuesday, some conservatives used the moment to put pressure on North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who faces re-election in 2016.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, led by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, said in a statement on Tuesday that “Congressman Meadows should not be punished for voting his conscience, and it’s time for Sen. Burr to defend him.”
Cuccinelli noted that Burr was a close friend of House Republican Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, and said that “it’s time for him to set friendship aside and do what’s right for the people of North Carolina.”
The release said the Senate Conservative Fund was raising money for Meadows’ re-election campaign as a way to “help defend” him from “the Republican establishment’s attacks.”
Heritage Action for America, a group dedicated to advancing conservative policy, said in a statement on Monday that Meadows and the others were pushed out because of their vote on the procedural trade motion. Michael Needham, the group’s chief executive officer, said in a statement that the House leadership was siding with Democrats instead of conservatives on the trade issue.
“Mark Meadows was right to stand by his constituents. For all the talk about ‘broadening the party’ it appears conservatives are now unwelcome,” Needham said.
Meadows also was one of the 25 Republicans who did not vote for Boehner to be re-elected speaker on Jan. 6 when the new term began. The only other North Carolinian in that group was Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville.
Meadows is one of nine founding members of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group started in January in a split with another conservative group of House lawmakers, the Republican Study Committee.