Sunday, February 25

Freedom Caucus at a crossroads

With help from Marianne LeVine and Olivia Beavers

FREEDOM CAUCUS ROAD MAP —  The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative renegades within the House Republican Conference, is approaching a crossroads. Or an identity crisis.

The group was founded with conservative policy ambitions and no qualms about bucking GOP leadership. It found a new voice when President Donald Trump took the White House and the HFC became more of a Trump defense team.

“We need to reevaluate where we’re heading,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a current but less active group member, told Olivia. “I like the principles that the Freedom Caucus was founded on, but I think that if we can’t work together as a group and push our ideas in a civil manner, then we’re not going to be very effective.”

But, as Olivia reports this morning, important cracks are emerging as Republicans are gunning to take back the House majority. Freedom Caucus members split this week on GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s tapes admonishing Trump and taking aim at his most firebrand colleagues. Some members, beyond DesJarlais, are wondering if the group needs to return to its limited-government, anti-spending roots.

“When we’re back in the majority, they’re going to go right back to their bad habits,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who’s not a member, told Olivia. “At least the militant wing of that group will become obstructionist again.”

But wait, there’s more: Olivia, a former Huddle host herself, has some bonus exclusive reporting for you that she couldn’t fit in her piece. Keep reading for that.

HOYER WEIGHS IN— House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is weighing in on the intense Democratic gubernatorial primary in Maryland, and potentially putting himself at odds with Speaker (and native Marylander) Nancy Pelosi.

Hoyer is endorsing author and entrepreneur Wes Moore while Baltimore scion Pelosi is backing Tom Perez, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee and a former U.S. and Maryland secretary of labor.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is term-limited and Democrats are eying Maryland as one of the best chances to flip a governorship, which has resulted in a packed primary for the open seat. Zach Montellaro had the scoop last night.

TGIF! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this April 29, 2022. Wishing you a healthy, happy White House Correspondents Weekend.


NO-GOH: The Freedom Caucus’ founding members initially struggled over whether to admit Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), ultimately doing so as the group started to expand. Gohmert, for his part, told a different story. He said he opted not to join the group originally and changed course at the urging of Freedom Caucus leaders.

NOT SO GOOD? Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), a Freedom Caucus board member, made incendiary comments about Afghan refugees during a meeting with supporters earlier this year, according to a recording of the event obtained by POLITICO. Good told constituents that he opposed taking in the refugees – many of whom aided the U.S. in its war against the Taliban – in part because he didn’t trust the country’s vetting process but also because he thought it was the “compassionate thing” to have them relocate to a country in the region “where they would fit in better culturally and religiously and ethnically and so forth.”

Also Read  Daylight saving time 2022: Time ‘springs forward’ this Saturday night

MORE FROM THAT TAPE: During Good’s event, he said House conservatives might not want to join the group because GOP leaders “punish the Freedom Caucus.” He also took separate swipes at Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and the 12 other House Republicans who voted to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and perpetuated false claims that Antifa was behind the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

GROW NO: Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry says he wants to grow the group’s ranks with “as many [lawmakers] as possible.” But some current members worry that, with Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) taking sides in primaries, that means a whole new cast of Freedom Caucus characters recruited in their image.

NEW TERRAIN: Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) is looking to make like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) next year, winning a top committee spot while playing nice with leadership from the Freedom Caucus. And it truly is pulling a Jordan; the group changed its bylaws to let him serve in both Freedom Caucus and GOP leadership. One current member, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity, told Olivia that party leaders, committee chairs and ranking members were initially barred from the group to avoid serving “two masters.”

WHO OWNS IT: After Greene and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) appeared at the white nationalist event (in person and on-screen, respectively), some Freedom Caucus members appeared to call on Trump to help separate his own “America First” platform from fringe figures that would co-opt it. Here’s Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio): “I would love to see … all of us unite and – say it’s not got anything to do with the America First principles.”

SENATE DEMS CAMPAIGN CASH — “Senate Democrats’ campaign arm is reserving $33 million in advertisements this fall, with the bulk of its resources devoted to protecting the party’s quartet of embattled incumbents in the hopes of keeping their tenuous hold on the majority,” reports Burgess. “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is plowing most of its initial reservation money into backing Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.”

TITLE 42 BLUES— The Biden administration’s plan for border security without Title 42 landed like a lead balloon among vulnerable purple state Democrats who have been pressing for a plan.

The pandemic policy put in place by the Trump administration allows immigration authorities to quickly expel migrants and deny entry to asylum seekers. The Biden administration is seeking to end it and the rollback is supported by many Democrats including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

Also Read  Liverpool 2-0 Everton: Andrew Robertson and Divock Origi score

The 20-page plan“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbed0002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbed0003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>20-page plan wasn’t enough to convince purple state senators up for reelection and those representing border communities.

“What I didn’t hear [Tuesday] was specifics about numbers and deployment and really meeting the need,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who’s up for reelection and recently visited the border. “I don’t have enough details from the administration about precisely how they are going to do that.”

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) isn’t convinced: “There’s having things on a piece of paper and then what is going on on the southern border — and there is a huge disconnect.”

More from Marianne, Burgess and Sarah: Biden admin struggles to calm the Democratic storm over immigration

WARNING: OVERNIGHT AHEAD— Plan accordingly. Next week the Senate will be taking votes on 28 (!) non-binding motions to instruct conferees on the China competitiveness bill. Schumer said the votes will start Tuesday and continue into Wednesday.

GRASSLEY INTRODUCES CRACK-POWDER COCAINE BILL — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that would reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine to 2.5:1 from 18:1. “Our legislation will significantly reduce this disparity while ensuring those more likely to reoffend face appropriate penalties,” Grassley said in a statement. Some Republicans view the bill as an alternative to bipartisan legislation that would completely eliminate the crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity. That bill passed the House overwhelmingly in September and advocates are pushing for a floor vote in the Senate, noting that it has 11 GOP co-sponsors and support from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). While the legislation, known by proponents as the “EQUAL Act,” has enough bipartisan support to break a filibuster, Democratic and Republican aides warned earlier this month that it could still face a tough amendment process.

Criminal justice reform advocates are already signaling the Grassley bill doesn’t go far enough. “The time for negotiation has passed, and it passed a long time ago,” said Jason Pye, director of rule of law initiatives at the Due Process Institute. “The EQUAL Act is an exercise in bipartisanship, which is more than I can say for Senator Grassley’s bill.” The two bills do have one thing in common: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is a co-sponsor.

PRIME TIME FOR INSURRECTION INVESTIGATION — Jan. 6 Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) plans to hold eight hearings throughout June, including some in primetime for television viewers. The first is expected to take place on June 9, Thompson told reporters Thursday.

“We’ll tell the story about what happened. We will use a combination of witnesses, exhibits, and things that we have,” Thompson said. “We have tens of thousands of exhibits … as well as hundreds of witnesses we’ve deposed or talked to in general. It will give the public the benefit of what more than a year’s worth of investigation has borne to the committee.” Nicholas and Kyle have more on what to expect“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbef0000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbef0001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>more on what to expect.

Also Read  Family ‘devastated’ by death of 27-year-old Leominster Marine who died in NATO training exercise in Norway - The Boston Globe

The Man Behind the Account that Blew Up Capitol Hill — Ruby Cramer talks to the person behind the Dear White Staffers Instagram account. Don’t miss it.

QUARTER ZIPS FOR ALL — Members of the House Progressive Caucus picked up some matching sweatshirts“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”″,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>matching sweatshirts.

HAPPY HOUR — The Congressional Progressive Staff Association is hosting a happy hour tonight at CPSA Metrobar at 6pm

TOUGH CALL — The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is partnering with Braver Angels to host an in-person training on “handling constituent calls in a polarized time,” this afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Rayburn Gold Room.


What’s next for staffer pay on the Hill?“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00004″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00005″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>What’s next for staffer pay on the Hill?, from Chris Cioffi at CQ Roll Call

Inside Volodymyr Zelensky’s World“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Inside Volodymyr Zelensky’s World, from Simon Shuster at Time Magazine

Elon Musk Plans to Buy Twitter. Senate Democrats Have Some Questions“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00008″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf00009″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Elon Musk Plans to Buy Twitter. Senate Democrats Have Some Questions, from Steven T. Dennis at Bloomberg

There’s another release of racy photos of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), first reported by The Daily Mail“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf0000a”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf0000b”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>first reported by The Daily Mail. Here is the related Ethics complaint.“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf0000c”,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf0000d”,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Ethics complaint.


Jenni Geurink is joining the communications team at the Commit Partnership in Dallas, Texas after three years with the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Jayne Fitzgerald is now Director of Government Relations at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). She most recently was the Economic Policy Advisor to Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), where she specialized in tax, pension, and financial services issues.


The House meets at 12:30 for a pro forma session.

The Senate is out.


10:45 a.m. Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly press conference (Studio A)

THURSDAY’S WINNER: Joe Bookman correctly answered that Dalip Singh Saund“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”″,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Dalip Singh Saund was the first Asian-American member of the House and Hiram Fong“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30002″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30003″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>Hiram Fong was the first Asian-American member of the Senate.

TODAY’S QUESTION from Joe: Who was the first sitting Secretary of State to travel abroad? And where did he go?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answers to [email protected].“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:”mailto:[email protected]”,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30004″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30005″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>[email protected]

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30006″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30007″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>emailed to your phone each morning.

Follow Katherine on Twitter @ktullymcmanus“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30008″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000180-7622-d0a8-aba3-f72bbbf30009″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>@ktullymcmanus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *