Mar 25, 2017
Two hundred and fifteen votes, that was the number President Trump and Speaker Ryan needed to pass the American Health Care Act out of the House. However, despite a 237 seat majority, GOP Leadership struggled to reach a consensus with the most conservative members of their party, the House Freedom Caucus.
Originally founded in 2015, the Freedom Caucus was born out of a splintering in the Republican party. Nine members of the already conservative Republican Study Committee broke off from their colleagues to form a smaller, tighter group of legislators intent on limiting the size of government. The caucus was first chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH-4) during the 114th Congress, who recently relinquished the chair position to Mark Meadows (R-NC-11) for the 115th Congress.
The House Freedom Caucus is all male and majority White.
The 115th House Freedom Caucus is comprised of 32 members spanning 20 states. Combined, their districts represents 23,359,783 million people which is roughly 7% of the U.S. population. Of the 32 members, 30 are White and 2 are Hispanic/Latino -- all are men with an average age of 56 years old. Not a single member of the caucus holds a committee chairmanship.
More than 2/3 of the caucus won at least 60% of the vote in their last election.
While only two members of the Freedom Caucus ran unopposed in the last election, 25 out of 32 members won with more than 60% of the vote. This comes as no surprise as ⅔ of the members represent districts with a PVI of R+10 or greater. The two members with the closest margin were Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49) who won with 50.3% of the vote and Rep. Rod Blum (IA-1) with 53.70% of the vote. Rep. Blum is the only member of the caucus who serves in a Democratic district (D+5) while Rep. Issa serves in a R+4 District.
More than 2/3 of the caucus wasn't in office during the ACA debate in '09-'10.
After pulling the vote, Speaker Ryan described his party's struggle to find a consensus as "growing pains." Which makes sense, considering only 9 of the 32 members were in office during the orginal Affordable Care Act debate in 2009-2010. Twenty-three of the 32 members were first elected to office in 2010 or later.
A point of tension
After successfully blocking the AHCA, the House Freedom Caucus faces a crucial decision moving forward -- continue holding their ground against GOP Leadership or be open to compromise with more moderate members of their party. With the debt ceiling, infrastructure, and tax reform around the corner, all eyes will be on the House Freedom Caucus.