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What is the Freedom Caucus?

Updated on March 29, 2017
Stephen Sinclair profile image

Stephen Sinclair is a freelance Canadian writer who has been publishing professionally for several years.

Said to Support Tea Party Principles

The Freedom Caucus was first conceived at a January 2015 meeting of nine Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Hershey Pennsylvania. According to Politico, the founding members include Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, John Fleming of Louisiana, Justin Amash of Michigan, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and Ron DeSantis of Florida. Jim Jordan's office announced the mission of the Freedom Caucus on January 26, 2015.

"The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans."

The Washington Examiner has described the Freedom Caucus as subscribing to "principles supported by the Tea Party movement." The New York Times reports the group is so "secretive that it will not disclose the names of its members." North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows is reported by the Times to be the current Freedom Caucus chairman. There are thought to be about 36 members, including Dave Brat from Virginia, Gary Palmer from Alabama, Randy Weber from Texas, and Warren Davidson from Ohio.

The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol | Source

House Freedom Caucus

  • Founded in January 2010
  • Seen as an alternative to the older, larger Republican Study Committee
  • Supports Tea Party principles
  • Lack of support from group seen responsible for failure of American Health Care Act
  • Caucus in favor of more cuts to Obamacare than proposed under AHCA
  • Secret membership; thought to have about 36 members

Freedom Caucus Pans American Health Care Act

Last week, President Donald Trump took the unusual step of ordering a vote in Congress on the American Health Care Act, the bill championed by the president and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan as a solution to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Members of the Freedom Caucus were reported to have prepared for the AHCA negotiations by reading President Trump's book, The Art of the Deal. An adviser to U.S. Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul observed the president's dealing last week and concluded that Trump had broken one of his own rules: "never seem too eager to cut a deal."

"The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you're dead," Blasting News quoted The Art of the Deal, via CNN.

Some Americans, aware that Congress has failed to pass the AHCA, might be under the impression that the Freedom Caucus refused to support the legislation because of forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office and President Trump's Office of Budget and Management that predicted 24 and 26 million Americans, respectively, would lose coverage under the Obamacare replacement, over the next 10 years. However, in actuality, members of the conservative caucus have refused to support the bill because proposed cuts didn't go far enough.

"Almost all" Republicans are said to hold a desire to cut back some of the "essential health benefits" guaranteed under Obamacare, which families and individuals who manage conditions like autism depend upon. The Republican-introduced AHCA was following a less-stringent "reconciliation" process that would allow passage of the bill with no votes from Democrats. However, "matters that are “extraneous” to the budgetary nature of the bill are excluded" from the reconciliation process. If any provisions with the AHCA were later deemed "extraneous" by the Senate, the bill could quickly die.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan | Source

Freedom Caucus Poll

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Alternative to Republican Study Committee

There appears to be disagreement within the caucus of exactly what would be considered "non-budgetary measures," and "extraneous," with some members believing that more cuts could be safely added, and others, such as Senator Rand Paul, believing that adding too many provisions to the proposed legislation would result in it failing to be considered under the reconciliation process.

Representative Andy Harris from Maryland told CNN that just because Trump made an ultimatum, and has turned his attention away, doesn't mean that the proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare is dead. Harris stated that even though a vote did not take place on Friday, it was far from being "the final offer on anyone's part."

The Freedom Caucus has been described as an alternative to the decades-old Republican Study Committee, which members of the new group describe as growing "too large." Some members of the older Republican group were said to have left and joined the Freedom Caucus, while others have decided to maintain memberships in both organizations.

U.S. Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul
U.S. Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul | Source

© 2017 Stephen Sinclair

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    • DICESI profile image

      Dicesi 8 months ago from New York

      I am a liberal and people who write for our website are liberals, but I respect the freedom caucus for standing on principle. They did not waiver and that should be commendable.