If Republicans retake the House in the 2022 elections, things are going to get ugly, fast, for the country, for Democrats … and for Republicans. In a recipe for infighting, the far-right House Freedom Caucus—home to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorn, Lauren Boebert, and Paul Gosar—is getting ready to make a play for increased power.
“We're going to be pushing for a fair process; we're going to be pushing for more participation. Freedom Caucus members don't seem to have much of a place in a lot of the larger decision-making," the group’s chair, Rep. Scott Perry, told CNN. "There's no Freedom Caucus member on the Select Committee on Intelligence. Seems to be that there should be a Freedom Caucus member on that.”
Kevin McCarthy finally got around to having a chat with Marjorie Taylor Greene about her participation in a white nationalist event, and, while he’s saying “she will not go again,” he also made it clear she won’t face penalties for having done so. In fact, he said that she and Gosar could get committee assignments back next year—kind of the opposite of consequences for their actions.
And really, McCarthy’s claim that Greene won’t go again is a dubious one, since he’s let her know that there aren’t consequences for her actions.
Perry was active in efforts to overturn the 2020 elections, including introducing Donald Trump to Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department official Trump considered putting in as acting attorney general in order to pressure state legislatures to overturn their elections. Under his leadership, the Freedom Caucus already has significant sway in the Republican Party.
Rep. Jim Jordan, a Freedom Caucus co-founder, is already in line to head the House Judiciary Committee if Republicans gain control of the House. Think about Jordan’s sneering, hectoring tone at hearings and then think about him with subpoena power.
The group now has 40 members after growing by 11 after the 2020 elections and is angling to get even bigger, promoting Trumpist primary candidates in a number of races. “Don't forget that we added 11 new members to the Freedom Caucus from the last election,” Rep. Andy Biggs said. “If we don't pick up five or six (next year), I'd be surprised.”
This is all a big headache for Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader with dreams of being speaker. He’s been frantically sucking up to the Freedom Caucus-ers, whose votes he will need to achieve his ambition. McCarthy has offered the Freedom Caucus a lot of face time, CNN reports, in addition to defending its members when they make the wrong kind of headlines—or at least leaving them alone after at most tepid comments denouncing the worst outrages. McCarthy’s speaker ambitions are why, for instance, he may call it “appalling” when Greene and Gosar speak at a white nationalist event, but he’s in no hurry to meet with them about it, and when he does, it won’t lead to anything.
If Republicans win the House in 2022—which they’re favored to do, given that the opposition party usually makes big gains in a president’s first midterms, and given the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy—the Freedom Caucus will be central in setting the agenda for the entire Republican Party. And the Freedom Caucus means Perry and his coup-plotting, Greene and Gosar and their cozy relationship with white nationalists, and Jordan and his utter Jim Jordan-ness. That means nothing good for the country or the world.
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