- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republican leaders have demoted another defiant colleague in their bid to impose party discipline on procedural votes.

Second-term Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina lost his subcommittee chairmanship this weekend, shortly after Speaker John Boehner expressed anger over rank-and-file Republicans voting against party-backed “rules” that govern individual bills.

Such votes traditionally divide along partisan lines and are seen as matters of party loyalty

Meadows was among 34 Republicans who voted against a recent rule that allowed consideration of “fast track” trade negotiating powers for President Barack Obama. Most of the 34 are staunch conservatives who often accuse Republican leaders of working too closely with Democrats.

Most GOP leaders support the trade bill.

House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah said he alone decided to remove Meadows as chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee.

“I made a tough decision that I believe is in the best interest of the committee,” Chaffetz said.

Meadows said in a statement: “No one should be punished for voting their conscience and representing their constituents.”

“My voting card may have my picture on it,” he said, “but it belongs to the people of Western North Carolina.”

Last week, the House Republican “whip” team dismissed three members who had joined Meadows in voting against the trade rule. The whip team is supposed to round up support for leadership-backed efforts.

Several conservative groups are defending Meadows and the others.

“We need to send a message to the establishment Republicans that if they come after one of our own, we will have their back,” The Madison Project said in a letter that urged donations to Meadows’ re-election campaign.

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