Freedom Caucus: Conservative House Reps Are Determined To Be A Thorn In Boehner's Side

Undaunted by last week’s loss in the battle over funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), conservative freshman Republicans vow to press forward with conservative interests. A few of these conservatives spoke with Reuters last week, indicating that more conflict in the future, within the GOP, can be expected.

Indeed, several freshmen have joined the fiercely determined new bloc of House conservatives known as the Freedom Caucus. This caucus was started by  Republican dissenters who embrace duty to constituents and the Constitution, over and above the agenda of House Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ].  For instance Jody Hice of Georgia, who is also a Baptist preacher and who rose to prominence while hosting a conservative radio talk show, explains that his “job is to represent the people in my district.” Hice was one of the six freshmen among 52 Republicans who voted against Boehner’s eleventh-hour scheme for a three-week extension of DHS funding.

Those who opposed the measure wanted funding to be contingent on blocking President Obama’s executive orders which ease the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.

Reuters reports:

“Their demand was blocked by Senate Democrats, delaying approval of funding for the anti-terrorism agency for weeks, then ultimately dropped in legislation Boehner and Democrats pushed through to fund the department with no conditions.

[mc_name name=’Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001282′ ]y Loudermilk, another new conservative from Georgia, said many of his constituents saw Obama’s order as both a violation of Congress’ powers under the Constitution and an unfair issuance of work permits to 5 million illegal immigrants who would compete with them for jobs.

‘A lot of our colleagues felt this was an oath-of-office vote to uphold the Constitution,’ he said.”

College economics professor from Virginia, Rep. Dave Brat, explains that  he supported Boehner until it became clear the speaker would acquiesce on  immigration demands, adding he is “highly skeptical that we couldn’t have found a way. We own both houses – and we lost.”

Boehner and other moderate Republicans are apparently taking these contenders seriously. As it turns out, an outside Republican group aligned with Boehner has run Internet and broadcast ads against some conservatives, which purported they were putting national security at risk. The group–American Action Network–projected a budget of $400,000 for the campaign, but the ads abruptly came to a screeching halt when the security agency funding was approved last Tuesday. But, the American Action Network said that was just the beginning of a multi-million dollar campaign to promote “center-right priorities.”

The following will presumably be on the group’s docket:

  • A transportation funding debate
  • A battle over the future of the Export-Import Bank
  • A move to raise the debt limit and approve a budget

In addition to battling the Freedom Caucus, however, the moderate group will also have to contend with Heritage Action and Club for Growth, two conservative organizations with a history of urging Republicans to vote against significant spending compromises, in addition to financing conservative candidates to challenge incumbents.

According to [mc_name name=’Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S000018′ ] (R-AZ), the momentum of the Freedom Caucus is rapidly increasing. Salmon and other members have emphasized their purpose isn’t merely endless debate and demagoguery.

According to Politico:

“Although they clearly lost the fight over DHS funding, the Freedom Caucus is beginning to show that it is a force that requires leadership’s attention. The group is showing legislative sophistication, defying the perception of a ragtag collection of demagogues as many in the Capitol had pegged it.

The group, along with [mc_name name=’Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001184′ ] (R-Ky.), were able to slow consideration of the Senate’s DHS bill using rarely employed floor tactics — a strategy born of consultations with parliamentary advisers that lasted more than a week, sources said. They successfully worked to whip up opposition to Republican leadership’s plans, dealing Boehner and House Majority Whip [mc_name name=’Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001176′ ] (R-La.) an embarrassing defeat on the House floor.

With the backing of popular conservatives, they have changed the definition of what legislation meets conservative muster. Those new standards have grown the group’s reach beyond its approximately two dozen members.”

And, that’s not all. Members also are threatening to stop financing the Republican party. Following the American Action Network ads, some Freedom Caucus lawmakers responded by warning they’ll cease giving money to the National Republican Congressional Committee, despite it being a standard practice expected of House Republicans.

The Freedom Caucus’s chairman is [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’J000289′ ] (R-OH).  Jordan was raised in Champaign County, Ohio and graduated from Graham High School in 1982, where he was a four-time state champion in wrestling with a career record of 150-1. Jordan went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, where he was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion. Later, he earned a Master’s degree in Education from the Ohio State University and a Law Degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Jordan is a fiscal conservative who believes that families and taxpayers, rather than government, know best how to make decisions with their money. Throughout his career, Jordan has fought against tax hikes, including those proposed by his own political party. He believes that cutting taxes and letting families keep more of what they earn helps build strong communities and a vibrant economy.

His congressional efforts have earned him recognition from Citizens Against Government Waste, Family Research Council, Americans for Tax Reform’s Friend of the Taxpayer Award and the 2012 Weyrich Award for “National Legislator of the Year.”

Still, while conservatives may view the creation of this group with optimism, the Freedom Caucus will no doubt face numerous obstacles. For one thing, they’ll be dealing with a largely moderate body of Senate Republicans. Then too, GOP leaders have indicated they will simply ignore what they believe to be Freedom Caucus’s self-defeating strategies.

Kind of hard to ignore a thorn in your side, though.