Reprinted with permission from Alternet
In early 2015 — when Barack Obama was serving his second term as president of the United States and Donald Trump had yet to launch his 2016 presidential campaign — the Tea Party movement gave birth to the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which has been the home of Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, former Rep. Mark Meadows, and other GOP extremists. The Freedom Caucus, now chaired by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, is still annoying House GOP leadership six years later. And journalists Olivia Beavers and Melanie Zanona, in an article published by Politico today, address some of the disagreements within the Freedom Caucus.
"A notable split has emerged inside the House Freedom Caucus in recent weeks over its members' use of delaying tactics on the floor to protest Democratic policies," Beavers and Zanona explain. "That effort has grabbed attention and ruffled leadership, two hallmarks of the Freedom Caucus, but it's also snarled legislative proceedings enough to breed frustration among some members of the far-right crew."
Biggs, Beavers and Zanona note, is behind the "delay tactics" that can "tie the House in procedural knots" — and some of the other Republicans in the Freedom Caucus fear that his tactics could "backfire."
A Freedom Caucus member, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Politico, "The level of division is whether to use it on every single bill or to withhold it on some bills. If you say, unconditionally, 'We're using (our power) on every motion,' there's no negotiation possible. So, that's been the breakdown…. whether to object to everything or some things."
Beavers and Zanona report that a group of Freedom Caucus "hardliners" recently met "to debate whether to use the strategy in a blanket fashion or on a more limited basis." Some members of the Freedom Caucus agree with Biggs' tactics; others don't.
Another Freedom Caucus member, also quoted anonymously, told Politico, "The issue with the motions to adjourn and other sort of parliamentary procedures are frustrating some members, but not enough to create some separatist movement or a coup d'état against Andy Biggs."
Beavers and Zanona point out that although members of the Freedom Caucus gained a reputation for coming together to "strong-arm" House GOP leadership, their members aren't "always in perfect unity."
The Politico reporters observe, "The Freedom Caucus' recent schisms aren't limited to procedural ploys. The group was not in lockstep over challenging certification of President Joe Biden's victory, with Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) emerging as some of the effort's most vocal GOP critics. The group also wasn't aligned when it came to endorsing controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last summer. Greene ultimately got invited to join the group despite some initial apprehension from some members, according to several GOP sources."
A Republican senior aide, quoted anonymously, believes the Freedom Caucus is in disarray in the Biden era.
The aide told Politico, "There's some real concern among the Freedom Caucus that it lacks a long-term vision. There doesn't seem to be an organized legislative plan or agenda — only sporadic press conferences and news releases. It could be argued that this.… has divided the caucus more than ever before."
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