Boehner gadfly gets prime post in Ryan's new House

Story highlights

  • Tim Huelskamp, a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is joining the House Steering Committee, traditionally a bastion of loyalists to the speaker

Washington (CNN)Republican rabble-rouser Tim Huelskamp was an outcast under John Boehner's tenure as House speaker -- he was kicked off of two committees for bucking his leadership and largely ignored.

But in Paul Ryan's new House, Huelskamp, a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is now on a powerful panel doling out coveted spots on high profile committees.
The Kansas lawmaker is on the right flank of the House GOP conference, frequently breaking with leaders on key votes. He has pressed for defunding Obamacare and Planned Parenthood as a condition of passing key spending bills.
    House GOP members voted on Thursday morning to add six new at-large members to the panel known as the "steering committee." Under Boehner's reign the panel was stacked with his allies who regularly filled vacant spots with party loyalists.
    Ryan made a pledge to Freedom Caucus members when he decided to run for speaker that he would change the makeup of the committee and give a broader cross-section of rank and file members a say in decisions.
    "I thank Speaker Ryan for following through on his reform promises. With these changes to the influential Steering Committee, my colleagues have sent a strong message that they're listening to the conservative heart of the party," Huelskamp said in a statement after the vote.
    Also elected to the Steering Committee were Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Jason Smith of Missouri, and Tom Cole of Oklahoma.
    Ryan already tapped Freedom Caucus leaders to a panel he meets with weekly to get a pulse from members on key issues, and Thursday's vote was more evidence that the group continues to flex its muscle.
    "Certain voices throughout the country were not being heard through their representatives, it should be a fair process and it should be based on merit," Louisiana GOP Rep. John Fleming, a Freedom Caucus member, told reporters after the vote on Thursday morning.