Hice also ruffled feathers over the past two years by voting against legislation supported by GOP leaders, including a two-year budget deal that bolstered defense spending by $165 billion and several must-pass spending bills.
Hice allies framed his ouster as punishment for the speaker vote.
“Removing any member from a committee solely because they voted according to their constituents wishes is viewed very poorly by the general public and is the kind of punishment politics that American people hate,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told the Hill newspaper, which first reported the story.
A GOP aide said the move by the leadership-aligned Steering Committee on Wednesday did not represent a “McCarthy vendetta,” but that Hice had angered lawmakers by repeatedly voting against party priorities.
A second source familiar with the committee vote said McCarthy had nominated Hice, a former pastor and conservative talk radio host, to return to the Armed Services panel but that he didn’t receive a required second vote.
Georgia Republican Tom Graves, an ally of McCarthy’s, also serves on the Steering panel.
Hice's 10th Congressional District, which stretches from Butts County to the Augusta suburbs, includes portions of Fort Gordon. Hice has used his position on the committee, which he joined in 2017, to advocate for the base's cybersecurity center.
Hice said he was “disappointed” by the move but promised he would “remain steadfast” in supporting the military and his 10th District constituents.
“I’m deeply honored to be their voice in Washington and will continue to support our men and women in uniform, fight for conservative policies, and help advance the President’s agenda,” he said in a statement.
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees write the annual defense authorization bill, which sets policy priorities for the Pentagon, and are also on the front lines of the often parochial debates over military base closures. With Hice gone, there’s now only two Georgians serving on Capitol Hill’s defense panels: U.S. Sen. David Perdue and U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton.
It’s possible Hice’s ouster from the committee could have a silver lining: endearing him to his colleagues on the Freedom Caucus. He’s currently making a bid to lead the group of roughly 30 conservatives, many of whom are already critical of GOP leadership.