After three years heading the once-powerful United States House Freedom Caucus, North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows has decided to leave his position as chairman. After the Republican Party’s recent loss of the House majority, the congressional group has been forced to develop a new approach, now without its previous position within the lower chamber of Congress. In past years, the Freedom Caucus had campaigned for GOP leadership, a drastic change to its current role; preparing for the upcoming 2020 elections and the new Democratic majority in the House.
Meadows and his colleagues told a reporter from North Carolina’s Policy Watch that they would still be important players in Congress regardless of his withdrawal from his previous position, as well as their new status as the minority party.
When asked if the group of Republican politicians still remained relevant in the Democrat-dominated House, Meadows said, “Oh, more relevant than you might imagine.”
Known as the “Trump Whisperer” due to his close ties to the president, Meadows is a fourth-term lawmakers hailing from the eleventh district, close to the western tip of North Carolina.
The Freedom Caucus was formed in 2015 and was kept a secret out of retaliation from party leaders. It has no official website, nor does it publicize its membership. However, it does have a Facebook page, and a Twitter account as well as a new podcast.
Meadows launched himself to fame when he began a campaign to unseat former Speaker John Boehner in 2015. The year after, Meadows was elected the chair of the Freedom Caucus, using the position to encourage repealing the Affordable Care Act as well as numerous tax reforms.
According to Matthew Green, a professor of political science at the Catholic University of America and author of a book written about the Freedom Caucus, Meadows’ political influence goes beyond lawmaking.
Meadows has expanded connections within the caucus significantly, specifically with the Trump administration. He also allowed for more collaboration of political reform with more moderate republican politicians, softening the confrontational edge the Freedom Caucus was once known for.
Several Caucus members have recently praised Meadows’ legacy in light of his stepping down.
“I think he’s been a stalwart person for freedom and looking out for the rule of law,” said Arizona Republican Paul Gozar.
Meadows’ legacy might be praised among House Republicans but to some more conservative voters, it might not be seen in such a positive light. Meadows’ has been accused of sacrificing conservative principles for partisan politics instead, exemplified in scolding of conservative Justin Amahash for tweeting about Trump’s impeachable offenses.
Representative Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican is expected to continue the caucus’ legacy. In a recent op-ed, Briggs laid out his agenda for the group, with a promise to overturn the 2016 election and to implement “radical socialized policies across the nation.”
Biggs said that the caucus is laying out the groundwork for the 2020 elections with members of the group backing conservative candidates throughout the state. Briggs stated that he is actively recruiting candidates that support, “open, limited, and accountable government.” Briggs stated that he would continue to support his predecessor and be “the conscience of conservatives.”