Monday, October 19, 2015

The House Freedom Caucus, explained

Updated by Timothy B. Lee on October 9, 2015, 3:50 p.m. ET
Vox.com

When Raúl Labrador looks at his fellow House Republicans, he sees a lot of people who are in Washington for the wrong reasons. "They think that being a member of Congress is just so dang cool, and that there’s nothing greater than this," the Idaho Republican said in June.

In Labrador's view, he and his allies in the House Freedom Caucus are different. They're in Washington to make big changes to how the federal government operates. They're not necessarily more conservative than other Republicans in the House, but they see their role as a sort of conscience to leadership, forcing them to stay true to their beliefs in the face of opposition from President Obama. And they're more comfortable using extreme tactics — like risking a government shutdown — to defend those beliefs.

The group is relatively new — it was only founded in January — and it keeps its membership rolls secret. But it's been waging an increasingly open rebellion against Boehner and his leadership team. One of their members, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), launched an effort to unseat Boehner that ultimately led to a surprise resignation announcement last month. And the HFC's threat to withhold votes from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the frontrunner to replace Boehner, contributed to McCarthy's decision to drop out of the race this week.

With only around 40 members, the HFC isn't close to representing a majority of House Republicans. But the group is big enough to deny the leadership a governing majority. And they've used that leverage to the hilt.

(More here.)

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