The House Freedom Caucus has apparently changed its rules


The House Freedom Caucus certainly has received some attention during the 118th Congress. The attention paid to the group has not been all that fair. The group’s history has not been discussed. Around 15 people voted against Kevin McCarthy during the race for Speaker. The “Never Kevin group” probably had fewer than five members. The Freedom Caucus rules are

. Most of the rules are written down, although some are not. They are mine, I wrote them. I am also unaware of any official modifications.

One rule is that 80 percent of members of the caucus must agree to a formal HFC stance on a particular issue. Last time I checked, even 15 or five members of the caucus are not close to 80 percent. It is true that a simple majority of 20 votes would be considered a simple majority. Thus, it would be false to say the effort against McCarthy was a Freedom Caucus initiative.

That rule regarding formal caucus positions, and another rule, albeit unwritten, have now come into focus as part of the discussion regarding government funding and the looming government shutdown.

That’s because some members of the Freedom Caucus recently came to an agreement with members of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership on a deal that would temporarily fund the government as part of a deal to reduce spending levels and also adopt certain policy initiatives, such as on border security. Some media outlets still claim that the House Freedom Caucus, even though it is members of that group who cut the deal and are actively promoting the agreement, are pushing for a shutdown. We had an informal test for prospective members when we formed the group in 2015. After all, we were looking for conservatives that could be relied upon to not only fight when it was necessary but also compromise when doing so would advance a conservative agenda. This approach led to the short-lived name of our group, “The Reasonable NUTS Caucus.” We were looking for Congressmen who could vote both against a procedure motion (commonly known as “rule”), and for a short term continuing funding resolution. We had to believe that either option would ultimately advance a conservative agenda. We knew some anarchists would vote against rules because they want to see the world burned. We were looking for conservatives with the ability to discern when to play one card over another and the courage to do so. Some people who claim to be members of the caucus say they won’t vote for any short-term CR.

It’s a pity, because it appeared that Freedom Caucus had worked with moderates to come up with something that would cut spending and improve border security. These were conservative priorities, last I checked. The HFC was created to promote compromise and progress. It is unlikely that any piece of viable legislation will be perfect. What I’m saying is that, if anything out there right now seems to be more true to the spirit of the founding of the Freedom Caucus, it is the effort to join with moderates to pass something that reflects solid conservative principles.

Yes, it has a short-term CR, but that was always envisioned by the caucus founders as being acceptable under certain circumstances.

At the same time, and for much the same reason, it is wrong to call opposition to the spending proposal, and in turn, opposition to the Speaker, a House Freedom Caucus initiative.

The truth seems to be the never-CR-never-Kevin-burn-the-place-down effort isn’t really coming from an organized group at all. Someone this week called it a collection of “caucuses of one.” Some seem to be using the effort to raise their public profiles on Fox News and social media; others are looking to leverage the newfound attention to run for higher office.

Some really might just want to burn the place down, and some certainly have honest motivations.

But to describe the current situation as something driven by the Freedom Caucus is lazy, inaccurate and unfair. Former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney is a NewsNation contributor. He was director of Office of Management and Budget and director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Donald Trump.