House Freedom Caucus Gets the Message

FedUp PAC Staff

In the wake of a projected $105 billion increase in the federal deficit this year, a group of conservatives in the House of Representatives did something last week that was a long time coming: They agreed to oppose House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spending blueprint for the next fiscal year.

The vote by 30 of the 40 members of the House Freedom Caucus is worth noting for a couple of reasons. First, without the support of House Freedom Caucus members, Paul Ryan has no chance of passing the budget plan that he is presently trying to jam down the throats of the majority Republican House. Ryan is holding firm to the budget-busting deal his patron and fellow establishment Republican former House Speaker John Boehner made with Barack Obama on Boehner’s way out of Washington last October.

To their credit, the House Freedom Caucus refuses to knuckle under to what one member described as “show votes” offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price. The deal put on the table by Price held out a pledge of future spending cuts in exchange for votes right now to support the Ryan plan. The House Freedom Caucus, however, saw right through the Ryan-Price appeasement attempt and turned thumbs down.

According to the Huffington Post, Caucus member Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) remarked that the offers “are promises of future cuts, which is what we’ve been doing for five years.” Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) added, “It is mind-boggling to me how Washington continually ignores our financial Judgment Day in order to win on the next Election Day.” These are hopeful signs that at least some House Republicans are getting serious about curtailing the growth of big government.

The House Freedom Caucus action is also meaningful in the background of the 2016 Republican presidential race. The success of outsider candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is sending a loud-and-clear message that no one in Washington is exempt from grassroots conservative anger over business as usual, especially the Republican-controlled Congress that has presided over an explosion of debt. The House Freedom Caucus gets it. But apparently, House Speaker Paul Ryan still does not.

You may recall Ryan’s telling a group of conservative leaders last month that they need to forget all about their principles. According to Speaker Ryan, fighting to repeal Obamacare is not worth the effort. Standing up for conservative values, claimed Speaker Ryan, “helps Democrats stay in the White House.” Then there was Ryan’s advice to give up on what he called “hot button issues” and “identity politics,” a thinly disguised slap at Trump and Cruz – the leading presidential candidates in Ryan’s own political party.

What’s more, opponents of big government are still shaking their heads over Ryan’s leading role last December in winning passage of a trillion-dollar “omnibus” federal budget that locked in place every single spending priority in Barack Obama’s promised “fundamental transformation” of America. Simply put, that budget was a betrayal of everything Republicans are supposed to stand for. Speaker Ryan is only fooling himself if he thinks conservatives have forgotten that act of treachery.

When Ryan promised House Republicans a “clean slate,” most of them were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, including the House Freedom Caucus, whose members supported elevating Ryan to the Speaker’s chair. But just two months later, Ryan conspired with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram the omnibus budget through Congress. By rejecting the Ryan-Price budget, the House Freedom Caucus is signaling they will not let the House leadership fool them again.

After the House Freedom Caucus formally voted down the Ryan budget blueprint, Congressman Labrador offered some timely advice: “I’m hoping leadership listens to the loud voice of the American people that has been speaking now for the last three or four months in every one of our primaries, where the establishment has been rejected from 50 to 75 percent in every one of our states. If they don’t listen to that, then maybe everybody needs a new job.”

FedUp PAC has some advice of its own for Congressman Labrador: Don’t hold your breath.