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Congressional caucus of conservative/libertarian Republican members of the US House of Representatives
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."
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.[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."
The House Freedom Caucus was involved in the resignation of Boehner on September 25, 2015, and the ensuing leadership battle for the new speaker. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. On October 29, 2015, Ryan succeeded John Boehner as the speaker of the House.
Backlash in 2016
The group faced backlash from the Republican Party establishment during the 2016 election cycle. 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.
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!" On the same day, Congressman Ted Poe of Texas resigned from the Freedom Caucus. 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). Vocal Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash responded by accusing Trump of "succumb[ing] to the D.C. Establishment."
In May 2019, the Freedom Caucus officially condemned one of its founding members, Justin Amash, after he called for the impeachment of President Trump. Amash announced in June 2019 that he had left the caucus, saying "I didn't want to be a further distraction for the group."
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.
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."
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. In the 115th Congress, the group had about 36 members. A number of members have identified themselves, or have been identified by others, as members of the Freedom Caucus; as of September 2019[update], those members include:
^ abcdefgMcPherson, Lindsey (October 31, 2018). "As House Republicans Brace for Losses, Freedom Caucus Prepares for Growth". rollcall.com. 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.