Freedom Caucus
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Freedom Caucus

The Freedom Caucus, also known as the House Freedom Caucus, is a congressional caucus consisting of conservative and libertarian Republican members of the United States House of Representatives.[1][3][2] It was formed in 2015 by what member Jim Jordan called a "smaller, more cohesive, more agile and more active" group of conservative congressmen,[13] and is currently chaired by Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona.

Many members are also part of the much larger Republican Study Committee.[13][14] The caucus is sympathetic to the Tea Party movement.[15] The Freedom Caucus is considered the furthest-right bloc within the House Republican Conference.[16][17] The caucus supports House candidates through its PAC, the House Freedom Fund.[18][19]


The caucus originated during the mid-January 2015 Republican congressional retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania.[20] According to founding member Mick Mulvaney, "that was the first time we got together and decided we were a group, and not just a bunch of pissed-off guys,".[21] Nine conservative active Republican members of the House began planning a new Congressional caucus separate from the Republican Study Committee and apart from the House Republican Conference. The founding members who constituted the first board of directors for the new caucus were Republican representatives Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Fleming of Louisiana, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Justin Amash of Michigan, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mark Meadows of North Carolina.[22]

Mick Mulvaney told Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker "We had twenty names, and all of them were terrible," Mulvaney said. "None of us liked the Freedom Caucus, either, but it was so generic and so universally awful that we had no reason to be against it." In the same interview, Lizza reported that "one of the working titles for the group was the Reasonable Nutjob Caucus."[23][24]

During the crisis over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security in early 2015, the caucus offered four plans for resolution, but all were rejected by the Republican leadership. One of the caucus leaders, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, said the caucus will offer an alternative that the most conservative Republican members could support.[25][needs update]

Following the election of Donald Trump, Mick Mulvaney said ""Trump wants to turn Washington upside down -- that was his first message and his winning message. We want the exact same thing. To the extent that he's got to convince Republicans to change Washington, we're there to help him ... and I think that makes us Donald Trump's best allies in the House."[26]

Opposition to Speaker of the House John Boehner

The newly-formed group declared that a criterion for new members in the group would be opposition to John Boehner as Speaker of the House and willingness to vote against or thwart Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner on legislation that the group opposed.[27]

The House Freedom Caucus was involved in the resignation of Boehner on September 25, 2015, and the ensuing leadership battle for the new speaker.[28] Members of the caucus who had voted against Boehner for speaker felt unfairly punished, accusing him of cutting them off from positions in the Republican Study Committee and depriving them of key committee assignments.[29][30] Boehner found it increasingly difficult to manage House Republicans with the fierce opposition of the Freedom Caucus, and he sparred with House Republican members in 2013 over their willingness to shut down the government in pursuit of goals such as repealing the Affordable Care Act. These members later created and became members of the Freedom Caucus when it was created in 2015.[27][31][32][33]

After Boehner resigned as speaker, Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, was initially the lead contender to succeed him, but the Freedom Caucus withheld its support.[34] However, McCarthy withdrew from the race on October 8, 2015, after appearing to suggest that the Benghazi investigation's purpose had been to lower the approval ratings of Hillary Clinton.[35][36] On the same day as McCarthy's withdrawal, Reid Ribble resigned from the Freedom Caucus saying he had joined to promote certain policies and could not support the role that it was playing in the leadership race.[37]

On October 20, 2015, Paul Ryan announced that his bid for the speaker of the United States House of Representatives was contingent on an official endorsement by the Freedom Caucus.[38] While the group could not reach the 80% approval that was needed to give an official endorsement, on October 21, 2015, it announced that it had reached a supermajority support for Ryan.[39] On October 29, 2015, Ryan succeeded John Boehner as the speaker of the House.[40]

Backlash in 2016

The group faced backlash from the Republican Party establishment during the 2016 election cycle.[41] One of its members, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, a Tea Party Republican representing Kansas' First District, was defeated during a primary election on August 2, 2016, by Roger Marshall.[42]

Rejection of American Health Care Act in 2017

On March 24, 2017, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the House Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, was withdrawn by Republican House speaker Paul Ryan because it lacked the votes to pass, due in large part to opposition from Freedom Caucus Republicans.[43][44][45]

Two days later, President Donald Trump publicly criticized the Freedom Caucus and other right-wing groups, such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, that opposed the bill. Trump tweeted: "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Obamacare!"[46][47] On the same day, Congressman Ted Poe of Texas resigned from the Freedom Caucus.[48] On March 30, 2017, Trump "declared war" on the Freedom Caucus, sending a tweet urging Republicans to "fight them" in the 2018 midterm elections "if they don't get on the team" (i.e., support Trump's proposals).[49] Vocal Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash responded by accusing Trump of "succumb[ing] to the D.C. Establishment."[50]

Trump has since developed a closer relationship with the caucus chair, Mark Meadows.[51] In April 2018, Trump described four caucus members--Meadows, Jim Jordan, Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz--as "absolute warriors" for their defense of him during the course of the Special Counsel investigation.[52]

Impeachment proceedings against President Trump

In May 2019, the Freedom Caucus officially condemned one of its founding members, Justin Amash, after he called for the impeachment of President Trump.[53] Amash announced in June 2019 that he had left the caucus, saying "I didn't want to be a further distraction for the group."[54]

Members of the Freedom Caucus have taken an active role in the impeachment investigation into President Trump that was launched in September 2019. Members of the Caucus have called for the release of the full transcript of former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker's testimony to Congress.[55]

Criticism from Republicans

On October 30, 2017, Vanity Fair published an interview with former speaker Boehner, who said of the Freedom Caucus: "They can't tell you what they're for. They can tell you everything they're against. They're anarchists. They want total chaos. Tear it all down and start over. That's where their mindset is."[56]


Congressional districts of Freedom Caucus members of the 114th Congress (former members in light color; as of October 2015)

The House Freedom Caucus does not disclose the names of its members.[57] In the 115th Congress, the group had about 36 members.[57] A number of members have identified themselves, or have been identified by others, as members of the Freedom Caucus; as of September 2019, those members include:


Term start Term end Chair
January 26, 2015 January 3, 2017 Jim Jordan
January 3, 2017 October 1, 2019 Mark Meadows
October 1, 2019 Present Andy Biggs
Term start Term end Vice-Chair
January 3, 2017 Present Jim Jordan

Former members

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ a b Taylor, Tyler (January 28, 2015). "House Freedom Caucus Delays Immigration Bill". Headlines and Global News. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Loiaconi, Stephen (March 24, 2017). "For Freedom Caucus, defying Trump could have consequences". WJLA-TV. Retrieved 2017. The House Freedom Caucus, a cadre of conservatives, libertarians and others who have shown no hesitation to buck the party leadership, has been heavily critical of the AHCA
  3. ^ a b Carl, Jeremy (October 13, 2015). "The Freedom Caucus Is a Rebellion That Could Change the GOP's Future". Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Friedman, Dan (July 13, 2016). "For These House Republicans, the NRA's Seal of Approval Isn't Enough". The Trace. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "After Boehner ouster, quiet period, Freedom Caucus attacks on IRS, ObamaCare". Fox News. December 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Reilly, Mollie (October 21, 2015). "House Conservatives Support Paul Ryan For Speaker, But Won't Formally Endorse Him". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "Paul Ryan vs. House Freedom Caucus: Who will blink first in speaker's race?". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Right-Wing 'Freedom Caucus' Says It's Going to Kill Trumpcare". Retrieved 2017.
    "GOP Centrists, Not Freedom Caucus, Are Blocking Deal To Replace Obamacare". Retrieved 2017. The conventional wisdom--repeated by President Trump--is that the right-wing House Freedom Caucus is singlehandedly blocking Republican attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
    "Meet the Right-Wing Rebels Who Overthrew John Boehner". Retrieved 2017.
    "Republican quits House Freedom Caucus". Retrieved 2017. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) resigned Sunday from the House Freedom Caucus, indicating he did so because he wanted to vote for the Republican healthcare proposal the right-wing caucus so adamantly opposed.
    "WHY LIBERALS HAVE LEARNED TO LOVE THE GOP FREEDOM CAUCUS". Retrieved 2017. Because every Republican in Congress is well aware that the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus are the culmination of American right-wing ideology, and have no interest in compromising on their ideological principles.
    "A HOUSE DIVIDED". Retrieved 2017. Meadows is one of the more active members of the House Freedom Caucus, an invitation-only group of about forty right-wing conservatives that formed at the beginning of this year.
  9. ^ French, Lauren (March 14, 2016). "House Freedom Caucus to break with leadership on budget". Politico. Retrieved 2016. Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have labored to gain the support of the far-right caucus
    Thrush, Glenn (March 25, 2017). "Trump Becomes Ensnared in Fiery G.O.P. Civil War". New York Times.
    Fabian, Jordan (March 30, 2017). "Trump on the warpath against Freedom Caucus". The Hill.
    Woolf, Nicky (October 7, 2015). "Republicans in Freedom Caucus support Florida conservative as speaker". The Guardian.
  10. ^ a b Newhauser, Daniel (June 24, 2015). "Boehner-vs.-Freedom-Caucus Battle Escalates". National Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Sean (March 4, 2015). "Insurgent bloc of House conservatives proving to be a thorn in Boehner's side". Washington Post. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ Bush, Daniel (January 22, 2018). "Who's to blame for the government shutdown? A look at the political fallout". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ a b Eaton, Sabrina (February 11, 2015). "It's official: Rep. Jim Jordan now chairs the House Freedom Caucus". Cleveland. Retrieved 2015.
  14. ^ Graf, Scott (January 28, 2015). "Idaho's Rep. Labrador Joins Other Tea Party Conservatives To Form 'Freedom Caucus'". Boise State Public Radio. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ Ferrechio, Susan (January 26, 2015). "Conservative lawmakers form House Freedom Caucus". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ Lauren Fox, Why (almost) everyone hates the House Freedom Caucus, CNN (March 24, 2017): "At first, there were just nine of them, but the group, which is considered the most far-right flank of the Republican conference, grew."
  17. ^ Mark Barrett, Meadows in line to lead House's most conservative wing, ''Asheville Citizen-Times'' (December 3, 2016): "the House Freedom Caucus, which occupies the furthest-right position on the ideological spectrum in the U.S. House..."
  18. ^ Boguhn, Ally. "The House Freedom Fund Bankrolls Some of Congress' Most Anti-Choice Candidates". Rewire News. Archived from the original on December 11, 2018.
  19. ^ Wong, Scott. "Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights". The Hill. Archived from the original on December 11, 2018.
  20. ^ Wofford, Ben. "Charlie Dent's War". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ Lizza, Ryan (December 7, 2015). "The War Inside the Republican Party". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ French, Lauren (January 26, 2015). "9 Republicans launch House Freedom Caucus". Politico. Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ "House Freedom Caucus was Born in Hershey". Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ Lizza, Ryan (December 7, 2015). "The War Inside the Republican Party". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ French, Lauren (March 3, 2015). "Conservatives offer John Boehner another DHS deal". Politico. Retrieved 2015.
  26. ^ Bade, Rachael. "Can the Freedom Caucus survive Donald Trump?". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ a b Lizza, Ryan. "A House Divided". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015.
  28. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (September 25, 2015). "John Boehner, House Speaker, Will Resign From Congress". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015.
  29. ^ Marcos, Cristina. "Boehner rebels replaced on committee". The Hill. Retrieved 2017.
  30. ^ Wong, Scott (June 27, 2015). "The dozen rebels targeted by GOP leaders". The Hill. Retrieved 2017.
  31. ^ "A Brief History of the 2013 Government Shutdown". Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ Jacobs, Ryan (October 4, 2013). "32 Republicans Who Caused the Government Shutdown". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ Lizza, Ryan (December 14, 2015). "A House Divided". Retrieved 2017.
  34. ^ "Kevin McCarthy Announces Run for Speaker of the House". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2015.
  35. ^ Costa, Mike DeBonis, Robert; Helderman, Rosalind S. (October 8, 2015). "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy drops out of race for House speaker". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015.
  36. ^ "In Context: What Kevin McCarthy said about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi". PolitiFact. Retrieved 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Rep. Ribble leaves Freedom Caucus over moves in leadership race". Politico. Retrieved 2015.
  38. ^ David M. Herszenhorn (October 21, 2015), "Freedom Caucus Is Key to Paul Ryan House Speaker Decision", The New York Times
  39. ^ DeBonis, Mike; Costa, Robert (October 21, 2015). "'Supermajority' of House Freedom Caucus to back Paul Ryan's speaker bid". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015.
  40. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (October 29, 2015). "Paul Ryan Is Elected House Speaker, Hoping to Manage Chaos". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  41. ^ Schneider, Elena (August 15, 2016). "The GOP establishment strikes back". Politico. Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ Robertson, Joe; Tate, Curtis (August 2, 2016). "Tea party's Tim Huelskamp ousted by challenger Roger Marshall in Kansas congressional race". The Kansas City Star.
  43. ^ "Breaking: House Republicans withdraw health care bill". KFOR-TV. CNN Wire. March 24, 2017. Retrieved 2017. Freedom Caucus members stood by their ideological objections to a bill they say does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare.
  44. ^ Shannon Pettypiece Jennifer Jacobs & Billy House, Trump Meets Freedom Caucus and Result Is Legislative Disaster, Bloomberg (March 25, 2017).
  45. ^ Eliza Collins, Collapse of Obamacare repeal plan puts Freedom Caucus in complicated spot, USA Today (March 24, 2017): "While the bill faced critics from all factions of the party, no group played more of a role in sinking the legislation than the Freedom Caucus."
  46. ^ "Trump tweets about Democrats, Freedom Caucus after health care bill fails". CBS News. March 26, 2017.
  47. ^ Weber, Joseph (March 26, 2017). "Trump hits Freedom Caucus, Washington conservatives for nixing ObamaCare overhaul". Fox News.
  48. ^ Abby Livingston, "U.S. Rep. Ted Poe resigns from Freedom Caucus", Texas Tribune (March 26, 2017).
  49. ^ Glenn Thrush, "'We Must Fight Them': Trump Goes After Conservatives of Freedom Caucus", The New York Times (March 30, 2017).
  50. ^ Jordan Fabian, Trump threatens to 'fight' Freedom Caucus in midterms, The Hill (March 30, 2017).
  51. ^ Golshan, Tara (August 28, 2017). "Meet the most powerful man in the House". Vox. Retrieved 2017.
  52. ^ Cheney, Kyle (May 7, 2018). "Trump's GOP 'warriors' lead charge against Mueller". Politico. Retrieved 2018.
  53. ^ "House Freedom Caucus votes to condemn Amash's impeachment comments". The Hill. May 20, 2019.
  54. ^ a b Byrd, Haley; Sullivan, Kate (June 11, 2019). "Justin Amash leaves the conservative Freedom Caucus". CNN.
  55. ^ Swanson, Ian (October 8, 2019). "Freedom Caucus demands release of full Volker transcript". TheHill. Retrieved 2019.
  56. ^ Nguyen, Tina (October 30, 2017). ""Idiots," "Anarchists," and "Assholes": Boehner Unloads on Republicans". The Hive. Retrieved 2017.
  57. ^ a b c Huetteman, Emmarie (March 20, 2017). "On Health Law, G.O.P. Faces a Formidable Policy Foe: House Republicans". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017. So secretive that it will not disclose the names of its members, [...] the roughly three dozen
  58. ^ Hansen, Ronald J. (March 24, 2017). "Two Arizona Republican House members helped sink 'Obamacare' repeal". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2017.
  59. ^ Wong, Scott; Shabad, Rebecca; Marcos, Cristina (February 26, 2015). "House will vote Friday to prevent Homeland Security shutdown". The Hill. Retrieved 2015.
  60. ^ a b c d Wong, Scott; Marcos, Cristina (June 27, 2015). "The dozen rebels targeted by GOP leaders". The Hill. Retrieved 2015.
  61. ^ Dexheimer, Elizabeth (July 5, 2017). "Taking Wall Street's Side, Young Congressman Infuriates Allies". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017. Budd affiliated himself with the Freedom Caucus
  62. ^ a b c d e f g McPherson, Lindsey (October 31, 2018). "As House Republicans Brace for Losses, Freedom Caucus Prepares for Growth". Retrieved 2018. Potential recruits receiving Freedom Fund money this cycle include Chip Roy in Texas' 21st District, Yvette Herrell in New Mexico's 2nd District, Mark Harris in North Carolina's 9th District, Greg Steube in Florida's 17th District, Denver Riggleman in Virginia's 5th District, Mark Green in Tennessee's 7th District, Russ Fulcher in Idaho's 1st District, Ron Wright in Texas' 6th District and Ben Cline in Virginia's 6th District.
  63. ^ "Boehner's successor joins Freedom Caucus". Politico. June 9, 2016.
  64. ^ Broden, Scott (April 22, 2015). "DesJarlais raises $144,677 for 2016 campaign". The Daily News Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  65. ^ Palmer, Anna; French, Lauren (February 5, 2015). "Ron DeSantis, Jeff Duncan quit House whip team". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  66. ^ Lanktree, Graham (February 13, 2018). "Trump Says Democrats Hate His Budget – But Some Republicans Don't Like It Much Either". Newsweek. Retrieved 2018.
  67. ^ Some sources state that Gaetz is "close to" the caucus, e.g.: Lucas, John (July 13, 2018). "President Trump takes a break from his European visit to endorse Rep. Matt Gaetz". The Capitolist. Retrieved 2018. / Smith, Allan; Perticone, Joe (January 13, 2018). "The most conservative congressmen are going all-out to fight for Trump against Mueller and the Russia probe". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018.
  68. ^ a b Livingston, Abby (March 26, 2017). "U.S. Rep. Ted Poe resigns from Freedom Caucus". Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2017.
  69. ^ Garcia, Eric (July 18, 2018). "Gosar Endorses Ward Over McSally in Arizona Senate Race". Roll Call. Retrieved 2018.
  70. ^ a b c d e f g "House Freedom Caucus Forms 'Fight Club' in House". 218. Retrieved 2015.
  71. ^ a b Darnell, Tim (March 19, 2015). "Can the House Freedom Caucus save the GOP?". Peach Pundit. Retrieved 2015.
  72. ^ a b c d e f g French, Lauren (January 26, 2015). "9 Republicans launch House Freedom Caucus". Politico. Retrieved 2015.
  73. ^ Sanchez, Yvonne Wingett; Hansen, Ronald J. (July 16, 2018). "McCain and Flake ripped Trump's Putin performance, but other Ariz. reps mostly silent". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2018.
  74. ^ Barron-Lopez, Laura (July 9, 2019). "Freedom Caucus-backed Murphy wins North Carolina runoff". Politico. Retrieved 2019.
  75. ^ Lovegrove, Jamie (July 2, 2018). "Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows to headline South Carolina GOP fundraiser". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2018.
  76. ^ a b c Fuller, Matt (September 16, 2015). "House Freedom Caucus Loses Member Over Planned Parenthood". CNN. Retrieved 2015.
  77. ^ a b Drew DeSilver (October 20, 2015), What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who's in it?, Pew Research Center
  78. ^ Marcos, Christina (April 27, 2017). "Texas Republican departs Freedom Caucus". The Hill. Retrieved 2017.
  79. ^ @DaveBratVA7th (March 13, 2015). "Proud to be part of House Freedom Caucus" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  80. ^ Newhauser, Daniel; Mimms, Sarah; Roubein, Rachel (February 26, 2015). "Boehner Has a Plan to Avoid a DHS Shutdown – But It Might Not Pass". National Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  81. ^ "Senate confirms Fleming as assistant secretary of commerce for economic development". Bossier Press-Tribune (7 March 2019). Retrieved 2019.
  82. ^ Portnoy, Jenna (March 15, 2017). "Three Virginia GOP congressmen, including Rep. Tom Garrett in 5th District, line up against GOP health care plan". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved 2017.
  83. ^ "Tim Huelskamp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas". New York Times. August 3, 2016.
  84. ^ Hallerman, Tamar (March 2, 2017). "Barry Loudermilk quietly leaves the House Freedom Caucus". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2017.
  85. ^ Fox, Lauren (March 26, 2017). "Rep. Poe resigns from House Freedom Caucus". CNN. Retrieved 2017.
  86. ^ "U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher endorses Dr. Kelli Ward for United States Senate". January 23, 2018. Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  87. ^ Schelzig, Erik (July 2, 2018). "GOP Rep. Rohrabacher campaigns for Matheny". The Tennessee Journal. Retrieved 2018.
  88. ^ Mauriello, Tracie (January 6, 2017). "Freedom Caucus may play role in alternate Obamacare repeal timeline". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017.
  89. ^ Cohn, Nate; Bloch, Matthew; Quealy, Kevin (February 19, 2018). "The New Pennsylvania House Districts Are In. We Review the Mapmakers' Choices". The Upshot. The New York Times. Retrieved 2018.

External links

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