The conservative-based House Freedom Caucus, which gained political fame by ousting one Republican House speaker (John Boehner) and making life miserable for another (Paul Ryan), has added a new member to its circle. It’s Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher.
Fulcher, who was undecided about joining the caucus when he took office in January, says he has been part of that group for some time. But while the Freedom Caucus remains active on a wide variety of issues, it is not the same political animal that it was four years ago when members (including Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador) were instrumental in taking out Boehner.
For Fulcher, membership with the freedom caucus is not about shaking up Congress or blasting fellow Republicans for campaigning as conservatives, but voting for big spending. There are no efforts behind the scene to reshape the power structure of House Republicans, which is a good thing since Republicans don’t have much clout in that chamber. Democrats are running the show now and the conservative agenda is not on the radar. The majority party’s focus is in three areas:
- Do more investigations of President Donald Trump.
- Explore impeachment of the president.
- Pass a series of bills that don’t have a snowball’s chance of getting through the Republican-led Senate.
On the bright side for Republicans, the Democratic agenda gives Freedom Caucus members plenty of material for press releases and town hall chatter.
Republican freshmen, such as Fulcher, have a choice in this political environment. They can join like-minded groups that valiantly fight for certain causes or sit in their office and hope Republicans regain the majority after the next election. Fulcher didn’t spend much time thinking about what he wants to do.
“As long as I’m here, I’m going to be in the fight and where the action is,” he said. “I want to be part of the solution. I’m not going to just sit back and watch.”
He’s involved with two other groups in addition to the Freedom Caucus. He’s part of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-life Caucus (which is almost all Republican) and the Congressional Western Caucus, which puts him in discussions about public lands and natural resources. Unlike Labrador, Fulcher also maintains a solid working relationship with 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.
“We talk pretty much every day,” Fulcher says.
On broader issues, much of the “action” on the GOP side is in the Freedom Caucus.
Author: Chuck Malloy
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