The dangers of the “Freedom Caucus”

Eshmom Haque, Staff Writer

On Jan. 3, the House of Representatives commenced their vote on the esteemed position of Speaker of the House, with Republican leader Kevin McCarthy predicted as the winner. In the first few rounds of voting, 15 Republicans from the Freedom Caucus, a clique of far-right representatives, voted present on their ballots, halting the process to force concessions from McCarthy. After 15 rounds of voting and numerous deals made, the holdouts finally voted for Kevin McCarthy to become the new Speaker of the House. This disastrous stand was a performative abuse of power, and will continue to strain future policies and give the extreme right additional political control. 


Instead of utilizing the natural process of government to substantially lower taxes, the Freedom Caucus held the House hostage to pressure McCarthy to accept their demands. This vote must be done immediately since essential processes such as the passing of legislation are paused and House members don’t receive their pay. If McCarthy refused to concede, the caucus would have kept stalling the vote, and thus were willing to sacrifice a functional government for their own benefit. 


One of the more controversial concessions established was the right for any House member to give a “motion to vacate” at any time during the term. This means that if members of the Freedom Caucus determine that McCarthy’s leadership isn’t going in their favor, they would be able to remove him at any time. With the looming threat of removal hanging over McCarthy, he’ll most likely have to appoint members of the Caucus in House committees, giving them more power. They may haphazardly cut down much-needed administration spending and stop accountability work for the Jan. 6th insurrection. Yielding these powers to the far-right will give future Republican presidents free reign to do as they please.


Moderate Republicans are letting far-right extremists dominate their party politics. Even after criticizing holdouts during the voting process, far-right representatives were shown to be uncooperative and refused to coordinate with their own party. The far-right has displayed unprofessional behavior and this blatant refusal to cooperate will spur party division. Similar to the Trump era, Republicans will be forced to pledge their allegiance to either the center or the far-right crowd.


The second most impactful concession made was concerning the U.S. debt limit. The Freedom Caucus is ideologically against more administration spending and thus made it difficult for McCarthy to introduce a bill that could increase the debt limit. This could lead to the U.S defaulting on its debts and preventing the government from functioning, greatly destabilizing America’s financial situation. 


Although seen as a spectacle on various news outlets, the 2023 House speaker election will have unfortunate consequences for the Republican Party and the U.S. government. A fractured Republican party with its most chaotic few at the helm is a recipe for disaster for everyone. The prevalence of extremist right-wing politics needs to be quelled for the future of America.