Back in December, a few conservative House Republicans were removed from their committee assignments by leadership because they voted against the budget plan offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The move was heavily criticized by fiscal conservative and grassroots groups who took the action taken by leadership to stifle dissent in the House Republican Conference.
Unfortunately, it appears that the strongarming from House Republican leaders is back. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) has lost his leadership post because of the role he played in the in the Farm Bill fiasco that backfired on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA):
Republican officials removed Stutzman, R-3rd, as an assistant whip, or vote counter, this summer because he opposed their procedures for advancing the five-year agriculture and nutrition bill.
“I did vote against the rule, and I knew it would cost me my position as assistant whip,” Stutzman said Monday outside Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, where he spoke at a 30th anniversary celebration.
A whip team surveys a political party’s representatives on how they plan to vote on legislation, giving caucus leaders a better idea of whether a bill will pass or fail. Stutzman’s removal was first reported by the political newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight.
“One of the requirements is you have to vote for all the rules with leadership if you’re on the whip team,” Stutzman said.
“But I felt that it was not the right direction. … I just felt it was wrong, and (the farm bill) failed. I think that I proved out that I was right under the circumstances.”
Republican leaders have tried to blame everybody but themselves for the failure to pass the Farm Bill. They pushed a measure that spent too much, with 79% of the cost of the $940 billion bill attributed to food stamp funding.
Stutzman offered an amendment in the House Rules Committee that would’ve divided the agricultural portion of the bill from the welfare portion. Unfortunately, that measure was defeated, leading many fiscal conservatives to vote against the Farm Bill, thus defeating the measure when it came to the floor.
Stutzman says that he’s still on good terms with leadership. And while he understood the risk he took by voting against the Farm Bill and was willing to accept the consequences, leadership shouldn’t have relied so hard on House Democrats to pass the nearly $1 trillion measure. Had they taken the approach suggested by Stutzman, they would’ve saved themselves some embarrassment.