High-ranking Republicans in the U.S. House recently removed Wyoming’s only representative from a leadership position because of her vote on trade.
U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, was removed from the GOP whip team. Whips are representatives who remind other House members of the party position on legislation and count representatives in favor and against bills to figure out whether they’ll pass or fail.
The whip position can be a stepping stone to higher leadership positions. Leadership positions are coveted in Washington, because they let representatives influence and block bills that are good or bad for their states, said Jeremy Mayer, policy and government professor at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia.
Lummis knew she would lose her whip position going into the vote, said her spokesman, Joe Spiering, in an email.
“No, she does not regret her vote,” he said.
On June 12, the House voted to give President Barack Obama authority to propose a trade agreement with 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Japan and Canada, that Congress can ratify or reject but not amend. It’s known as “fast-track authority,” according to the Associated Press.
Lummis, in a statement after the vote, said she voted against Trade Promotion Authority.
“After six years of misleading statements on Obamacare, failed foreign policy and power grabs over water and land, this president has proven to be untrustworthy at every single turn,” she said. “I could not bring myself to cast Wyoming’s vote in support of President Obama’s politically driven agenda. I don’t trust him with a clod of dirt, let alone international trade deals.”
The National Journal reported June 16 that in addition to Lummis, GOP Reps. Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Trent Franks of Arizona were also removed from the whip team.
Mayer, the George Mason professor, said Wyoming might not be harmed as a result of Lummis’ removal from the whip team.
“I would judge the damage as minor at this point,” he said in an email. “Yes, a whip position for a small-population state like Wyoming can steer some attention to Wyoming at key moments, but if Rep. Lummis rises in committee positions, she will be in a position to do greater good.”
The National Journal noted Lummis is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
“I don’t want to speculate on motives of people I haven’t spoken with or met, but I can say that this fits with the pattern in the Boehner years of hard-core conservatives voting against the leadership, more than we have seen in the past from either party’s members,” Mayer said. “This is rational behavior for many Republicans, who really only have to fear a primary challenge from the right, not a general election opponent. This demotion is probably something Lummis can run on in her next primary. She not only stood up to the House leadership, she refused to help President Obama. That’s a Wyoming Republican dream in many ways.”