IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

A Freedom Caucus member’s rant highlights the far right’s cluelessness

No group has done more to undermine conservative policy than the Freedom Caucus.

Poor Mike Johnson. Less than a month into his new job, the Freedom Caucus has already cooked up fresh scorn for the House speaker.

While he was able to avoid a government shutdown, it appears that in doing so he brought his honeymoon as the GOP's new leader in the House to a quick close. The far right of the Republican conference is already agitating for him to deliver on their implausible demands.

It would appear that changing the speaker hasn’t changed the Freedom Caucus’s fortunes.

On Wednesday, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a third-term member of the House Freedom Caucus, took to the House floor to vent his frustration. “When we come back from Thanksgiving, I’m hearing lots of promises about what we will do,” said Roy. “Let me just lay down a gauntlet here: We better damn well do it.”

But it was his excoriation of the House’s record this year that was most remarkable:

One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing — one — that I can go campaign on and say we did. One. Anybody sitting in the complex: if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides, “Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-TeXas

It would appear that changing the speaker hasn’t changed the Freedom Caucus’s fortunes.

Roy’s bellicosity was triggered by Johnson’s supposed betrayal of the right by passing his stopgap measure to keep the government open without any spending cuts, and relying on Democrats to help carry it over the finish line. It was the same type of short-term bill that cost Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker, his job.

Even as we’re increasingly numb to the antics of the Freedom Caucus, Roy’s speech was extraordinary for how it questioned the entire existence of the House Republican majority. It is fair to wonder whether Roy was voicing of honest frustration or, more likely, selfishly grandstanding at the expense of his Republican colleagues.

Nonetheless, Roy has a point. The House has struggled to make good on its promises. But rather than blaming Republican leadership, Roy should look in the mirror.

For years now, the House has been stuck in the same cycle that has perpetuated the status quo.

It was Roy himself who, at the start of this Congress, forced McCarthy to make a host of promises that were plainly unrealistic, including cutting spending back to 2022 levels, while Democrats control the White House and Senate.

And when it comes to putting points on the board under GOP majorities both past and present, no group has done more to undermine conservative policy than the Freedom Caucus and the like-minded members who preceded its founding in 2015.

The 2012 fiscal cliff, the 2014 border security package, the 2017 effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act all failed or moved to the left because the right deemed them insufficiently conservative and would not support them.

No issue tells the story more than government spending. The crew that has made the most noise over Congress’s failure to pass its 12 annual appropriations bills on time is the same one that has done the most to prevent them from passing.

For years now, the House has been stuck in the same cycle that has perpetuated the status quo: Conservatives demand that the appropriations committee write spending bills at levels that repel any Democratic support and are out of whack with counterpart bills in the Senate. When the bills come to the House floor, they either include policy riders or funding cuts that not all Republicans can support. After passing a few of the least controversial bills, the House gets stuck and can’t pass any more. (This is where we stand today.)

Eventually, because the House has not been able to do all its work, and because the House and Senate are so far apart, it’s left to party leadership to pick up the pieces and pass a big bipartisan omnibus spending bill that is anathema to conservatives. Rinse and repeat.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the House setting a conservative marker. But when you refuse to vote for anything that would be passed by a Democratic Senate or signed by a Democratic president, you leave yourself little room for wins.

Until the far right is willing to accept the realities of divided government, they will keep coming up short on their promises.

The shame is this was supposed to be the year we overcame the Freedom Caucus blockade. McCarthy negotiated a bipartisan debt limit agreement that included caps on spending for the next two years. At the time, he and many conservatives hailed the deal as the biggest spending reduction in history. This arrangement was supposed to have resolved the hardest part of the budgeting process — deciding how much to spend — thus allowing Congress to finally pass 12 individual spending bills.

But, of course, the Freedom Caucus revolted. Its members demanded McCarthy go back on that deal and have the House pursue spending bills at levels far lower. Now, as a result, we’ve continued to fund the government at levels Nancy Pelosi put in place last year. Well done, Freedom Caucus.

It feels silly to even raise the idea of pragmatism in the context of the House Republican Conference, but until the far right is willing to accept the realities of divided government, they will keep coming up short on their promises.

For many, that’s OK. Operating in bad faith, they win either way. A failure to cut spending is just an opportunity to blame “the swamp” and pat themselves on the back. But for those conservatives sincerely hoping to the move policy to the right, this frustration with Speaker Johnson should be a wake-up call.

Maybe, when the party is on its fourth speaker since 2015, and your luck hasn’t changed, it’s not them. It’s you.

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news