Reprinted with permission from American Independent
The far-right wing of the House Republican caucus is demanding the party immediately mount a quixotic bid to remove Nancy Pelosi from her position as Speaker of the House. They claim the California Democrat is too "authoritarian."
In a letter dated July 23, the House Freedom Caucus asked Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Republican Conference to "bring up a privileged motion by July 31, 2021 to vacate the chair and end Nancy Pelosi's authoritarian reign as Speaker of the House." They ask McCarthy (R-CA) to obtain authorization from the party conference to force a vote on a resolution to remove Pelosi.
Formed in 2015, the Freedom Caucus is a group of hard-line conservative House Republicans. It claims to "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." While it does not disclose its roster, dozens of its members have been identified, including its chair, Andy Biggs (AZ), and its vice chair, Jim Jordan (OH).
The letter to McCarthy specifies a handful of grievances against Pelosi, who the group claims is "destroying the House of Representatives and our ability to faithfully represent the people we are here to serve."
First, they charge that she "has championed unconstitutional changes like allowing proxy voting and insulting security metal detectors for Members coming to the floor to vote."
These moves were not unconstitutional. The Constitution expressly grants each chamber the authority to "determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member."
After numerous COVID-19 cases in Congress, the House voted to pass a temporary rule change to allow members to designate a colleague to serve as their proxy if they are "unable to physically attend proceedings in the House chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency."
Republicans initially objected, calling the change a decision by the Democrats to "abandon ship" and filing a federal lawsuit challenging the work-from-home system. A federal judge rejected their case last August, and a three-judge appellate panel unanimously dismissed their appeal on Tuesday — but McCarthy's office said he plans to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.
But dozens of House Republicans — including several members of the Freedom Caucus — have taken advantage of the system. Some even used it as an excuse to skip work and attend the CPAC conference in February.
The House also voted to require members to pass through metal detectors after several ignored a prohibition on firearms in the chamber.
The Freedom Caucus' letter also complains of Pelosi's decision not to appoint two GOP members chosen by McCarthy to the select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, as well as the House's February vote to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from her committee assignments over her racist and bigoted behavior.
"Less easily reversible is the damage done to the institution by the Leadership of one party directing the ability of Members of another party to serve in roles at the direction of their own conference," they wrote, adding that this followed "the intolerable action of unseating another Republican from her committees."
Numerous House members who later joined the Freedom Caucus voted in 2014 to create an earlier select committee to study the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. That committee was appointed at the sole discretion of the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner.
And 200 House Republicans — including most members of the Freedom Caucus — voted this March to remove Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Even if the Freedom Caucus convinces the rest of the House Republicans to force a vote on Pelosi's removal, it is almost certain to fail in the majority-Democratic House.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.