Two weeks ago, about 30 House Republican insiders kicked me and three other colleagues off our preferred committees. For me, a fifth-generation farmer, this included the House Agriculture and Budget committees.
No explanation has been given from these closed-door meetings, but we do know that a secret "scorecard" was part of the calculation. Although I voted with Republican leadership plenty, clearly they rated votes in which I was asked (and refused) to compromise conservative principles.
For four straight years, Washington has run trillion-dollar-plus deficits, leaving our nation at a staggering $16.3 trillion in debt. In 2010, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi controlled the show, Republican leaders promised voters an end to out-of-control spending. Republicans who said "put us back in charge" felt it immoral to burden the next generation with an exploding national debt. As silly as it may sound in Washington, I happen to believe that voters wanted Republicans to act on those promises.
During the past two years, I have hosted 140 in-person town halls across Kansas. At each one, constituents' concerns have been the same: the overspending, borrowing and over-regulation must stop. And, their solutions are the same: grow the economy by shrinking government, repeal Obamacare, roll back overregulation, reduce spending and do not raise taxes. I have taken that message back to Washington. And unfortunately, representing the views of Kansans, not Washington insiders, has cost me my committee assignments.
I stood for my constituents' priorities. I will continue to do so. And, I am grateful that my constituents stand with me.
About a week after being kicked off my committees -- and after many editorial pages in Kansas had time to skewer me for it -- I polled constituents during a telephone town hall. The responses were overwhelming:
Ninety-one percent said "Tim Huelskamp should continue to stand firm for cutting spending and refusing to raise taxes," while only 9 percent said "Tim Huelskamp should compromise and increase spending and raise taxes." And 90 percent agreed that "Tim Huelskamp should continue to stand firm for conservative principles like reducing spending and protecting traditional values, even if it means Republican leadership in Washington kicks him off his committees." Just 10 percent disagreed.
Many opponents -- including some editorial page boards across Kansas -- viewed this "purge" as an early Christmas present. It was their opportunity to hit me over the head for my common sense views. Ironically, these are the same editorial pages that decry the GOP agenda led by John Boehner, that lament the lack of a farm bill because GOP leadership refuses to allow a vote, and that detest the fact that cocktail circuits, backdoor deals and special interest politics -- rather than transparent debate -- all too often guide legislative action.
My two years in Congress have been characterized by trying to bring transparency and accountability -- as well as a little fiscal responsibility -- to Washington, not trying to scale the status ladder. It is my honor and sacred Congressional duty to represent you, not any special interest or party insider in the Capitol.
After all, the voting card you have entrusted me with says "Tim Huelskamp, First District of Kansas" -- not "Tim Huelskamp, obedient Republican Party yes man."
My wife, Angela, and I thank you for your continued support, encouragement, prayers and input. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp,
R-Fowler and Hutchinson