Huelskamp confirms ouster from Ag Committee, too

By Bill Felber

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp confirmed Wednesday that he has been booted from two of his three Congressional committees, apparently due to disagreements with House leaders.

Huelskamp, who will represent the Manhattan area as part of the first district when the new Congress convenes in January, said during a press conference that he had been removed from the Agriculture Committee as well as the Budget Committee. The latter development had been reported Tuesday.

Assuming his removal from the Ag Committee is not reversed — and Huelskamp said people were working to have it overturned — he indicated it would be the first time in a century and a half that a western Kansas representative had not been on the committee.

He used much of the press conference to rip into House leadership for an action he characterized as “the worst form of petty, vindictive politics.” He said he believed he was being punished for voting his conscience rather than with party leadership. Huelskamp is a Republican; leaders of the House are, too, so this is an internal party feud.

He called the loss of the Ag seat “a particular affront,” noting that the First District is “the single most productive agricultural district in the nation.” He said he was one of only 12 farmers in the Congress.

The Congressman said he did not believe that Second District Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who is a member of the steering committee that made the removal decisions, “had a hand in” his removal. He added that he had enlisted Sen. Pat Roberts, a former chairman of the House Ag Committee, to seek to have thataction overturned. But he acknowledged not having been given any indication yet what new committees, if any, he would be assigned to. As of this moment, his only committee membership is on Veterans Affairs.

Huelskamp minimized the importance of committee work, saying those bodies had rarely met during his tenure, and the meetings that were held were largely formalities. He vowed to continue working on the floor of the House to amend legislation, particularly the farm bill, which he noted would not be acted upon before the next recess. That begins Thursday.

But he continually returned to his characterization of the dispute as a matter of voting principle. “They were asking me to turn over my voting card to the folks in Washington,” Huelskamp said. “I refused.” He said he has “a sacred bond with my constituents” to vote his conscience, terming it “an issue of integrity.”

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