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Republicans stripped of committee slots lash out at GOP leaders


A pair of House Republicans stripped of their plum committee assignments lashed out Tuesday at the GOP leadership, suggesting they were punished for insisting on fealty to conservative principles.

NBC's Mark Murray reports House Speaker John Boehner has removed four House GOP committee chairmen in what's being described as a 'power move' against members who weren't 'team players.'

Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and Justin Amash, R-Mich., huddled with conservatives after the Republican Steering Committee removed them from their seats on the House Budget Committee.

"It's petty, it's vindictive and if you have any conservative principle, you'll be punished," Huelskamp said at a briefing for conservatives at the Heritage Foundation.

Huelskamp and Amash, along with Reps. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., and Walter Jones, R-N.C., lost their seats on the budget panel and House Financial Services Committee after the GOP conference determined they were "not team players," in the words of one Republican aide.

That action has prompted a minor outcry among conservatives, who fear that lawmakers who cross the GOP leadership will be punished for their transgressions. That fear coincides with mounting concern on the right that Republican leaders will cut a "fiscal cliff" deal with President Barack Obama that results in higher taxes, through either increased rates or eliminated deductions.

Amash and Huelskamp said that they learned of losing their spots on those committees by reading reports in the media; they said that no Republican leaders had notified them of the changes.

"I've received not a single call from anyone in leadership, not a single email," Amash said. "I've been not told about what committees I will be on."

The Michigan congressman, who distinguished himself as one of the more libertarian-minded Republican congressmen during his first term in the House, suggested that his independence on issues (including supporting cuts to defense spending) had led GOP leaders to look to "silence" him.

Huelskamp said the suspected a video he produced last week re-affirming his support for a pledge vowing to never raise taxes contributed to his loss of the committee spot. The Kansas conservative furthermore said he feared Republicans might cave on the issue of taxes.

"I think there's going to be an attempt to pass a tax increase through the U.S. House, in exchange for what?" he asked.