The conservative House Freedom Caucus is reportedly poised to use its increasing clout to pick the next House Speaker — and the new leader's agenda.
According to CNN
, the group, which had a hand in bringing about the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner last Friday, has a list of demands for his successor that includes slots on top committees, input on bills before they go to the floor, and a promise of follow-through on previous pledges to dismantle President Barack Obama's policies.
"I think most people in the Freedom Caucus realize that one of us would probably be the longest of long shots and so our hope is to work with someone who can actually win to accomplish the agenda we talked about," Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, one of founders of the caucus, said Tuesday.
Freedom Caucus member Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said the group's focus is to gain a voice.
"It really should be about what we're going to do to change the process here, so everybody can feel empowered in the process, and that was the beginning of the conversation," he told CNN.
Currently, the top conservative-friendly House Speaker prospect is California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy
But "the same people who were after John Boehner are going to try and fry the next guy," Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate, warned, CNN reports.
According to CNN, McCarthy is courting the Caucus to ensure he'll have the critical 218 votes needed to win the speaker's gavel — and even set up a sit-down with Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks — who isn't yet convinced.
"I am in a very conservative district from the state of Alabama," Brooks told CNN on Tuesday. "I want things done that will make the people of my district feel more comfortable about him being speaker of the House, given that his voting record, although perhaps arguably conservative in the whole political spectrum, is somewhat less-so if you look at the Republican philosophical spectrum."
Meanwhile, North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, another Freedom Caucus member, explains the political system is usually stacked against outsiders, complaining, "Everything up here is about money, everything up here is about calculating your next step."
Still, the Caucus has been hampered about a perceived lack of strategy, according to CNN. For example, North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows tried on his own to oust Boehner
in July but, according to CNN, was "chastised" by other caucus members for hogging the spotlight without having a plan to replace Boehner.
And, despite a meeting as recently as Monday night, the Caucus still hasn't come to a consensus on how to assert its power; group's rules require 80 percent agree on a strategy before it becomes a formal caucus position, according to CNN.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who founded the caucus, tells CNN McCarthy "has that potential" to be different than Boehner. "It's up to him to make the case to how he would do that."
The first test of who will emerge as a lawmaker with conservative backing could come in the House vote
to pass a spending bill funding federal agencies through Dec. 11 — with Salmon predicting it'd be "suicide" for any House Republican competing for a leadership job to back the bill if it doesn't contain a measure to defund Planned Parenthood, CNN reports.
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