House leadership seems to be sending congressional Republicans a message: Fall in line or fall out of line.

Tea Party conservatives booted from prominent committees

(Image: Getty Images)

The Republican leadership made news this week after plucking outspoken conservatives from influential policy positions on Capitol Hill:

Speaker John A. Boehner initiated today a small purge of rebellious Republicans — mostly conservatives — from prominent committees; it’s the latest instance of the Ohio Republican’s clamping down on his fractious conference.

The decisions were made by the GOP Steering Committee at a Monday meeting, which reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership, three sources said.

Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were booted from the Financial Services Committee. Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas were removed from the Budget Committee.

According to a source, Schweikert was told that he was ousted in part because his “votes were not in lockstep with leadership.”

Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman says the Steering Committee made the decisions based on a number of factors, but except for one or two changes, the axe came down on outspoken conservatives whose priorities weren’t limited to toeing the party line.  But in tense fiscal cliff negotiations with the White House, Boehner is flexing his muscle and constructing a united front with all the tools at his disposal.