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Monday, January 24, 2022

House Democrats devise way to rein in GOP Freedom Caucus cranks gone wild

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The tactic of choice for these “legislative terrorists,” as former GOP speaker John Boehner called them, has been to demand individual floor votes on dozens of so-called suspension bills, which temporarily suspend House rules so that noncontroversial measures can be quickly passed. The stall tactic has eaten up gobs of floor time to no good end other than causing a massive legislative backlog in the lower chamber. It’s all very on brand these days for the GOP, which is less of a political party with tangible goals than a vessel of grievance. 

McCarthy’s inability to rein in the Cranker McCrankertons caucus has left Democrats to devise a workaround that appears to finally be at hand. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is reportedly planning to bundle the suspension bills into a single package for floor votes, which he suggested would “save us somewhere in the neighborhood of seven-and-a-half hours,” presumably on each suspension bill. 

“I expect to make a motion prior to us voting on any of the suspension bills that they be considered en bloc,” Hoyer said.

The Freedom Caucus’ antics have angered House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, if for different reasons. Democrats are trying to actually govern (i.e. do their jobs) while many Republicans hope to win back the majority in 2022 by developing a cohesive messaging strategy around opposition to certain bills. The Freedom Caucus’ scattershot approach is pure distraction from any meaningful midterm strategy.   

“I don’t see that this is resonating at home,” veteran GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said last month. “I mean it’s just a pain. It’s a pain in the ass.”

That’s a sentiment on which nearly all House Democrats can agree. But McCarthy’s total inability to hold any sway with this group of grenade throwers is a window into how they will dominate the GOP caucus should Republicans manage to retake control of the chamber next year.


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