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GOP strips 4 of House committee seats

Four House Republicans have been stripped of their committee seats after it was determined by the Republican conference that they were "not team players," a GOP leadership aide told NBC News. 

The decision made Monday during a meeting of the Republican Steering Committee strips Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Walter Jones (R-NC) of their seats on the Financial Services Committee, and Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) of their seats on the House Budget Committee. 

The decision to take the committee seats away from Schweikert, Amash and Huelskamp has transformed into a mini-battle between conservatives and the Republican leadership establishment, with Schweikert's office saying his removal was a result of his "voting based on principle." 

"This morning Congressman Schweikert learned there was a price to be paid for voting based on principle. That price was the removal from the House Financial Services Committee," Schweikert's Communications Director Rachel Semmel told NBC News in a statement, "We are obviously disappointed that Leadership chose to take this course, but Rep. Schweikert remains committed to fighting for the conservative principles that brought him here." 

Reps Amash and Huelskamp caught flak from Republican leadership after they voted against the Republican budget during a vote to move the bill from the Budget Committee to a full vote of the House. As a result the bill made it through committee by only one vote.

When the Republican budget was voted on by the full House, Amash, Huelskamp and Jones were among a small group of Republicans who voted against it, saying it did not go far enough to cut the federal deficit.

House Republican leadership aides say the assertion by Schweikert's office that the move is a reflection of his voting record is "absurd."

"These guys are clearly not team players. This isn't about ideology; this is about how you treat the people on your team," a GOP leadership aide told NBC News, "Paul Ryan is one of the most conservative-principled members of our conference, and he kept his committee assignment."

Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), responded by saying, "The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors."

Schweikert is known for ruffling feathers within the Republican conference.  In July, Schweikert was removed from the GOP "Whip team," which is responsible for gathering votes to pass bills, because he voted against a bill he was telling members to vote for, according to a Politico report.

The fight has spilled outside of Capitol Hill, with the conservative group Club for Growth calling the move "a consequence of their principled stands on behalf of pro-growth policies, often bringing them in conflict with the leadership of their own party."

"Congressmen Schweikert, Huelskamp, and Amash are now free of the last remnants of establishment leverage against them," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. "We expect that these three defenders of economic freedom will become even bolder in their efforts to defend the taxpayers against the big spenders in both parties."

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