Freedom Caucus sends Republican candidates guide on navigating DC, pressure from GOP leadership after election

EXCLUSIVE: The House Freedom Caucus Thursday is sending a 52-page guide to new GOP candidates on what they’ll face as freshman members – including arcane rules, fast-paced and important votes, and pressure from party leadership.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga. – a Freedom Caucus member – is among those over the years who’ve fallen victim to these sometimes overwhelming situations facing new members. When he first ran for Congress in 2014, he promised not to vote to give former House Speaker John Boehner another term as the chamber’s top Republican. 

He voted against Boehner, R-Ohio, when the Republican Conference met in November to pick its nominee for speaker. But on Jan. 3, as members were sworn in and as votes rolled in on a razor-close election for speaker, Hice broke his principal campaign promise and voted for Boehner. 

Angry texts flew in from supporters. The mood in his offices soured. Hice’s team was faced with a major setback on its first day. “The months it took to recover from that,” a former Hice staffer said, “it was a traumatic experience.”

It’s situations like that the new memo by the House Freedom Caucus to all new Republican candidates running for House seats across the country is meant to prevent. Page 19 notes that there’s no formal requirement for members to vote for their party’s House speaker nominee. 


According to the former Hice staffer, a member of GOP leadership had told Hice the November conference vote was like a primary election, and the floor vote was a general election – members were expected to vote the party line. A longtime pastor who’d never been elected to public office before, Hice simply took that person’s word for it. 

“There’s… people that have never served in elected office whatsoever. And so everything will be completely new to them,” House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry, R-Pa., said of what new members will face when they come to D.C. in just a few weeks. 

“Have votes for leadership, have votes for steering committee, have votes for regions for steering committee members, pick your committee assignments,” Perry added. “All those things come very, very quickly… But an informed member is one that can best represent their district.”

“[For] most people come into Congress, even if they’ve had legislative experience serving in the state legislature… Congress is a different animal altogether,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said. 

The guide includes a detailed timeline of members’ responsibilities between Election Day and when they’re sworn in, including votes on party leadership, conference rules, steering committee members and more. It also includes a list of Freedom Caucus reform proposals for both the GOP Conference and the House in general – including restoring the motion to vacate the chair. 

In a letter attached to the packet, Perry warns new members about the major decisions they’ll have to make before the end of November, like leadership elections and votes on conference rules. 

“These are critical decisions; but the simple truth is that it perfectly suits some if you are unprepared or unaware of their significance,” Perry writes. “Some will urge you to be ‘a team player’ by falling in line with leadership and doing what you’re told. You’ll be warned not to ‘rock the boat’ by raising questions or concerns with leadership’s agenda.”

Perry told Fox News Digital this effort isn’t just about putting pressure on leadership, but also ensuring new members can contribute to governing from day one. 


“It’s not just about challenging party leadership. It’s about adding value,” Perry said. “It’s all with the mindset that if you keep doing the same things, you’re going to keep getting different outcomes. We want different outcomes.”

A senior aide to a Freedom Caucus member said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and other Freedom Caucus members have made themselves available for conversations about what candidates will face after they win. She and other Freedom Caucus members have campaigned and met with candidates like Neil Parrott in Maryland and Anna Paulina Luna in Florida. Luna’s already committed to joining the Freedom Caucus. 

“You have very general conversations at the level of candidate,” Perry added. “But as it gets closer to the potential of them not only being candidates, but being actual elected members… the conversation turns more from, ‘How can we help you in your election?’ to ‘How can we help you navigate Washington, D.C., and be productive here?'”

Members can be more productive, Perry said, if they take time to think about how they want to handle their whirlwind of responsibilities in Washington before they get there.

“You’re trying to figure out your room assignment,” he said of the basic problems members confront when they first arrive. “Your attention is divided.”

Notably, Freedom Caucus members don’t seem to be coalescing around a person to potentially challenge Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for the speakership. They appear confident, however, that they’ll be able to leverage their voting bloc to force a laundry list of reforms. 

This could prove a challenge for McCarthy’s efforts to govern. He seems like he may already be shifting toward the Freedom Caucus on key issues. Punchbowl News reported this week that McCarthy is reluctant to continue to “write a blank check to Ukraine” in its war against Russia, and isn’t ruling out using the debt limit as an opportunity to force spending reforms.

Fox News’ Aishah Hasnie contributed to this report.


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