Ken Buck joins the GOP leadership "bad boy" list; Update: Boehner backing down?

We recently talked about the punishment handed down to Congressman Mark Meadows after he broke ranks with GOP leadership on the trade deal. At the time I wondered if we’d seen the last of this and rather doubted that was the case. If the early reports are accurate, this ride hasn’t come to a stop yet because Ken Buck (R-Colorado) is rumored to be facing a ruler across the knuckles himself. But rather than a key committee chairmanship, Buck would be looking at losing his position as Freshman Class President.


It’s a largely ceremonial position, but the title of class president soon could be taken from Congressman Ken Buck — and the Colorado lawmaker says it’s punishment for going against Republican leadership on a crucial trade vote.

On Thursday, Buck and other rookie Republicans plan to decide whether he should remain as their freshman class president. Buck said the vote on his leadership is a response to his decision this month to oppose a bill that would grant President Barack Obama more leeway to negotiate international trade agreements..

Now the freshman legislator says he’s getting punished for it, similar to how fellow Republican Mark Meadows of North Carolina recently was stripped of a subcommittee chairmanship. “It’s clear that this (vote) is retribution for the TPA (trade promotion authority) vote,” said Buck in a statement.

For his part, Buck had a three word answer: Bring it on.

To be honest, I’ve never been quite clear on exactly how much “power” comes with these sorts of positions aside from a nice line on your resume if you’re hoping to move quickly up the ladder into other leadership positions later on. Still, it’s a bit of an embarrassment and can’t make Buck feel all that great. But would there be anyone in the wings who might benefit from such a move?


Among those calling for the vote on Buck’s future as class president is another congressional rookie: U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., who serves as a liaison between the freshman class and the House brass, which includes Speaker John Boehner.

When asked about the Thursday meeting, her office noted it would include a discussion of “future leadership.”

I’m not sure if this is an entirely down side proposition for Buck. The Wapo has released a second piece on his friend Congressman Meadows and it’s looking like his “punishment” might be backfiring in terms of national influence.

Meadows, perplexed at being the symbol of the controversy, has shot to prominence in the last week. He’s receiving text messages from presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), hosting a rally in North Carolina with Ben Carson on Tuesday and will have completed about 15 live media hits by the end of the week. For an obscure House sophomore known primarily to viewers of Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” (he’s a semi-regular guest), it’s a swift rise.

In spite of this, it is not hard to see that the loss of the chairmanship has pricked Meadows, a lawmaker who runs on friendship, delivering bombshells with a hug. Nicknamed “Sunshine” by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Meadows is the rare tea-party upstart who seems genuinely dismayed that his votes will affect his ability to rise in committee ranks…

“I feel for some of my colleagues who know that the speaker is supporting this decision and now think having lunch with Mark is not necessarily a proper or good thing to do. I’m sensitive to that. I’m letting them off the hook and letting them know that they don’t have to have lunch with me,” Meadows said.


Meadows is seeing his stock rise with the base, much in the pattern of Mike Lee and Ted Cruz did in the Senate in the past. It’s also getting him a lot more earned media time, which only expands his footprint, but that’s not the same has having a committee position and the ability to get his own legislation passed. So how does this play out? It’s something that’s more generational than some overnight, flash in the pan. As long as the GOP holds on to significant majorities in Congress and the current leadership can keep a sufficient number of folks in line, it’s still a losing situation for Meadows, and now possibly Buck. But if the tide turns and the Speaker has fewer seats, needing every single vote to count when pushing his agenda, the conservative wing’s power grows exponentially.

Will there be any more heads rolling? There are a couple dozen other dissenters out there who haven’t been taken to the woodshed yet. But at the rate this process is moving we probably won’t have to wait very long to find out.

Update (Ed): The opening salvo of this crackdown was the removal of Rep. Mark Meadows as chair of a subcommittee on the House Oversight Committee. An hour or so ago, Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz reversed that decision:



The Washington Post gave Meadows a positive profile today in a story that touched on the conservative backlash to Republican leadership’s handling of the trade deal:


The North Carolina Republican is the picture of delight as he bounds through a crowded hallway outside evening votes, returning greetings from all sides, like a father of the bride.

“I love people,” Meadows said in typical warm drawl during an interview on Wednesday. “Every single week, I try to find at least seven different people with something unique and admirable about them, and I share that with them. D.C. is not going to change me on that, even today.”

By today, Meadows means six sore days after he was punished for crossing the House Republican leadership with the loss of a subcommittee chairmanship. Booting members from plum positions is Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) disciplinary measure of choice, in part because there is little else he can do these days to remind conservatives who sets the agenda.

The latest clash came to a head this month when Meadows and 33 other conservatives voted against a procedural rule during the trade debate, nearly sinking the effort at a delicate time for leadership. Three members of the group were kicked off the the GOP whip team in retribution, but Meadows was the first to lose a gavel.

And now he’s the first to get it back, too. Sounds like Boehner’s backing away from the confrontation after having it exposed — and perhaps after conservatives began floating trial balloons about joining Democrats to vacate the Speaker position.


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