On Monday afternoon John Boehner quietly ejected some of the most conservative members from their posts on influential congressional committees.
David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Walter Jones (R-NC) were expelled from the Financial Services Committee, and Justin Amash (R-MI) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) were jettisoned from the Budget Committee. They were given the boot in part because their "votes were not in lockstep with leadership," as Rep. Schweikert was told.
Rep. Huelskamp, elected in the 2010 Tea Party surge, responded with a passionate screed against his party's leaders: "The GOP leadership might think they have silenced conservatives, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our conservative convictions. This is...a sure sign that the GOP Establishment cannot handle disagreement."
Boehner's stealthy coup has been met with dismay on the right. For some groups it's signalled the start of outright warfare. Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, and Club for Growth all condemned Boehner and promised to redouble their support for the booted congressmen.
And last night conservative activists on Twitter were baying for the Speaker's blood via the hashtag #PurgeBoehner:
@BernardKingIII: Boehner is teaching the principled tea partiers that the small gov't & cutting spending is all a lie for election season. #PurgeBoehner.
@niceninja: As a Conservative...THIS makes me TOTALLY SICK...and makes me wonder what EXACTLY the new GOP is up to!! #PurgeBoehner.