A week after the midterm elections in November, a small group of far-right GOP lawmakers and activists gathered on K Street in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategies to use their narrow majority to extract power in the House. The next Congress, influential activist Ed Corrigan said, could be a “European-style coalition government” run by three groups: “The Democrats, the Republicans and the Freedom Caucus.”
The forum was convened by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and attended by several other lawmakers, including two others who helped block Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week from becoming House speaker: Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Victoria Spartz, R-Ind.
The strategy outlined by Corrigan went beyond just extracting concessions from House leaders — it amounted to a game plan for the House Freedom Caucus to operate as a third party in a de facto parliamentary system, essentially co-governing the chamber with mainstream Republicans. As lawmakers prepared for a seventh round of voting on Thursday, House Republicans appeared to be on the precipice of allowing that to happen.
“What would coalition government look like in practice?” Corrigan asked the group, which was filmed and livestreamed but has attracted little notice beyond conservative media. “I would recommend the Freedom Caucus would be granted a specific number of committee assignments, and committee and subcommittee chairmanships,” as well as a variety of other new powers, including putting a Freedom Caucus member as chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.
This week, McCarthy has reportedly been conceding to a litany of demands from the Freedom Caucus — including the possibility of placing members of the caucus as chairs of committees and adding members to the House Rules Committee, a move that would help Freedom Caucus members steer how many and which amendments are offered for bills on the House floor, a crucial function. [Continue reading…]