|Vice Chairman||Jim Jordan|
|Founded||January 26, 2015|
|Split from||Republican Study Committee|
|Political position||Right-wing to far-right|
|National affiliation||Republican Party|
|Seats in House Republican Conference|
44 / 212
|Seats in the House|
44 / 435
|This article is part of a series on|
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The Freedom Caucus, also known as the House Freedom Caucus, is a congressional caucus consisting of conservative Republican members of the United States House of Representatives. It is generally considered to be the most conservative and farthest-right bloc within the House Republican Conference.
The caucus was formed in January 2015 by a group of conservatives and Tea Party movement members, with the aim of pushing the Republican leadership to the right. Its first chairman, Jim Jordan, described the caucus as a "smaller, more cohesive, more agile and more active" group of conservative representatives.
The caucus is positioned on the right-wing to far-right of the political spectrum, with certain members holding right-wing populist beliefs, such as opposition to immigration reform. Its members hold socially and fiscally conservative views, and most are supportive of Donald Trump. The caucus includes some members who are considered libertarians. The caucus supports House candidates through its PAC, the House Freedom Fund.
The caucus originated during the mid–January 2015 Republican congressional retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 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". 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, Mulvaney, of South Carolina, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
Mick Mulvaney told Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, "We had twenty names, and all of them were terrible. 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." According to Lizza, "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 would 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 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 him on legislation that the group opposed.
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 conservative members of the Republican Party in the House, and he sparred with those House Republicans in 2013 over their willingness to shut down the government in pursuit of goals such as repealing the Affordable Care Act. These Republicans 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.
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.
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 who believed that the replacement provisions had the effect of failing to repeal some elements of the original Affordable Care Act.
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."
Trump later developed a closer relationship with the caucus chair, Mark Meadows. In April 2018, Trump described three caucus members—Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Ron DeSantis—as "absolute warriors" for their defense of him during the course of the Special Counsel investigation.
On October 30, 2017, Vanity Fair published an interview with Republican former House speaker John 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."
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.
The caucus was described as "Trump's main defender" during the impeachment proceedings in the House.
In March 2020, former Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows was appointed as White House chief of staff, replacing Mick Mulvaney, who was also a founding member of the Freedom Caucus.
Freedom Caucus members have called on Liz Cheney to resign as Chair of the House Republican Conference, due to her vocal criticism of Trump's foreign policy, response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and use of social media, leading to her firing May 12, 2021, and replacement by Elise Stefanik two days later.
In December 2020, the caucus sided with Donald Trump and opposed the NDAA on the grounds that it did not include a provision to repeal Section 230.
In April 2021, a faction within the Freedom Caucus, led by Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, attempted to form a new splinter group called the 'America First Caucus', along with Matt Gaetz. Senior members of the Freedom Caucus reportedly reacted with "fury" to the proposal, with Ken Buck publicly denouncing it. The new caucus was later scrapped.
Later, a faction emerged of Trump loyalists within the Freedom Caucus known as the 'MAGA Squad', which included Gosar, Greene, Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, Louie Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Scott Perry and Lauren Boebert. It was "not a formal caucus", but was described as more radical than the mainstream Freedom Caucus. The group supported primary challenges against incumbent Republicans during the 2022 United States House of Representatives elections.
In December 2021, the Freedom Caucus officially expanded to the state level, establishing the 'State Freedom Caucus Network' in state legislatures to provide legislators with additional resources. The group has state-level caucuses in seven states: Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, South Dakota and Illinois.
In July 2022, the caucus split over the Respect for Marriage Act, with chairman Scott Perry (R-PA) joining 46 other Republicans in voting for the bill, while the caucus en bloc opposed it.
The Freedom Caucus was actively involved in the 2022 House Republican leadership elections, but it was divided on some races. Former Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs launched a challenge to Kevin McCarthy's bid to be Speaker of the House of Representatives, though McCarthy won the Republican nomination with the endorsement of other caucus members, such as vice chair Jim Jordan, David Schweikert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. McCarthy will still need 218 votes from the House floor to be elected speaker on January 3, 2023.
Freedom Caucus member Byron Donalds also ran for House Republican Conference chair, but lost to incumbent Elise Stefanik. Another Freedom Caucus member, Andrew Clyde, ran for House Republican Conference secretary, but lost to Lisa McClain.
The current chair of the caucus is Representative Scott Perry from Pennsylvania, with Representative Jim Jordan as the deputy chair.
|Chair||Term start||Term end||Tenure|
|1||Jim Jordan||February 11, 2015||January 3, 2017||1 year, 327 days|
|2||Mark Meadows||January 3, 2017||October 1, 2019||2 years, 271 days|
|3||Andy Biggs||October 1, 2019||January 1, 2022||2 years, 92 days|
|4||Scott Perry||January 1, 2022||Incumbent||333 days|
The House Freedom Caucus does not disclose the names of its members and membership is by invitation only. The New York Times wrote in October 2015 that the caucus usually meets "in the basement of a local pub rather than at the Capitol". The caucus acts as a bloc, with decisions that are supported by 80 percent made binding on all of its members, which has strengthened its influence among House Republicans.
As the HFC does not publicize a full membership list, the known number of members at the start of each electoral cycle is listed below.
|Election year||Overall seats||Republican seats||±|
36 / 435
36 / 241
37 / 435
37 / 199
46 / 435
46 / 212
44 / 435
44 / 212
A number of members have identified themselves, or have been identified by others, as belonging to the Freedom Caucus. There are at least 44 caucus members as of May 2022[update]; those members include:
In the 115th Congress, the group had about 36 members.
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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.
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.
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.
Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have labored to gain the support of the far-right caucus
A member of the House's far-right Freedom Caucus and co-chair of the Hungarian Caucus, Harris tried to torpedo the resolution during floor debate by attacking a provision that called for setting up a NATO unit to help its members build democratic institutions.
Rep. Mary Miller, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said Trump has vowed to campaign for her ahead of her primary against GOP Rep. Rodney Davis.
Ms. Miller is a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus who has adopted Mr. Trump's grievance-infused manner of speaking and once spoke approvingly of Adolf Hitler.
These far-right Freedom Caucus members had been unhappy with Boehner's top-down style of leadership, which they felt had forced members into compromising too much with Democrats.
This set up a difficult battle for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to reach a consensus within his caucus between mainstream Republicans and the forty-member-strong Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right libertarian, isolationist, ...
The parties are very polarized: the middle is empty, so that no Democrat is to the right of any Republican and no Republican is to the left of any Democrat. The Freedom Caucus members are located on the far right.
As president, Trump has variously aligned himself with the positions of the far-right Freedom Caucus and with establishment Republican leaders.
The far-right Freedom Caucus in the House called for full repeal whatever the consequences, but by then the ACA had become more popular with the public and even drew support...
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
Freedom Caucus members stood by their ideological objections to a bill they say does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare.
The House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of roughly three-dozen conservatives, backed Trump's position Tuesday and said its members would vote against the bill.
So secretive that it will not disclose the names of its members, […] the roughly three dozen
Gary Palmer (Ala.), a Freedom Caucus member
Budd affiliated himself with the Freedom Caucus
HFC Members: ... Michael Cloud
Freedom Caucus member Ben Cline
Riggleman, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, ...
Ted Yoho is a member of the Freedom Caucus.