Greene’s Freedom Caucus ousting underscores GOP-conservative tensions

House Republicans will return to Washington this week amid rising tensions between GOP leaders and hard-line conservatives, a dynamic highlighted by the House Freedom Caucus taking a vote to oust Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

The apparent purge marks a stunning development for Greene, a conservative icon and close ally of former President Trump who has also, more recently, cozied up to House GOP leaders at the expense of her standing among her own hard-line colleagues.

And it could create new headaches for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has leaned on Greene’s firm support to shield him from conservative attacks throughout the year.

The “straw that broke the camel’s back,” Freedom Caucus board member Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) told reporters Thursday, was Greene calling Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) a “little bitch” on the House floor in June. 

But Harris also said that Greene’s close relationship with McCarthy, as well as her support for a debt ceiling deal the Speaker struck with President Biden over the objections of most Freedom Caucus members, all “mattered” in her ouster.

Greene told Breitbart News that she had not yet talked to House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) about the vote, and questioned whether there was a quorum for the “impromptu” meeting.

But the vote itself has highlighted broader frictions between GOP leaders and far-right conservatives, who were wary of McCarthy’s speakership from the first days of the year, grew furious with his handling of the debt ceiling and are now eyeing tactics to force McCarthy to hold a tougher line on deficit reduction in the coming battle with Biden over federal spending.

Hanging over that debate is the threat of a government shutdown — and a possible challenge to McCarthy’s Speakership. 

McCarthy and some of his leadership allies huddled with roughly a dozen of the conservative detractors on the day Congress left Washington for the July 4 recess — an effort to ease tensions before the long break. Lawmakers on both sides of the debate left that meeting with hopes of coming together to pass all 12 appropriations bills through the lower chamber in time to prevent a shutdown at the end of September.

“We're making progress,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) said afterwards. “We'll be working on finding as many opportunities to cut federal spending as possible.”

Yet no deals were sealed, and winning the votes of the hard-liners — many of whom have opposed most of the spending bills they’ve faced in Congress — will be no easy task given the Republican’s slim House majority and the unanimous Democratic opposition to the GOP’s proposed cuts.

That internal GOP battle will be front and center as Congress returns to Capitol Hill, where Freedom Caucus members and their allies will focus the next three weeks on pressuring McCarthy and House leadership to pass spending bills at levels below the caps McCarthy agreed to in the debt ceiling deal — and rejecting what they call budgetary gimmicks, like rescinding previously approved funds, in order to achieve those lower levels.

Conservatives are also gearing up to pressure leadership on hot-button social issues in amendments to the annual defense authorization, which the House takes up next week. Among the nearly 1,500 amendments are proposals to ban the Defense Department from paying for abortion services or travel to a state where abortion is legal, and “anti-woke” measures like eliminating diversity and inclusion positions and initiatives.

Greene’s apparent ouster from the Freedom Caucus has sparked plenty of questions about the underlying reasons: Was it policy differences, personality disputes, a clash of allegiances, or some combination of the three? Harris said there were multiple factors at play, but neither Greene nor the Freedom Caucus will officially confirm her membership status or the motives behind the push to remove her.

In a statement responding to news of the vote to remove her, Greene said that she “serve[s] no group in Washington” and “will work with ANYONE” on her top priorities.

But coming in the midst of the spending fight, the vote to expel her — the first in the group’s eight-year history — is seen by some outside experts as just the latest example of the conservatives flexing their muscles in a razor-thin GOP majority. 

In doing so, they’ve sent a message to GOP leaders that they aim to use their considerable leverage to achieve their policy goals, particularly on federal spending. They’ve also sent a warning to their own members that there's a price to pay for siding with the conventional governing strategy adopted by McCarthy on issues like the debt ceiling that demand bipartisan support.

“That's what Marjorie Taylor Greene's problem [is] here,” Brendan Buck, former aide to past Speakers John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), told NBC News. “It's not so much that she's fighting with her colleagues. It’s that she's become an ally of the Speaker.”

Some other observers see the Freedom Caucus’s recent moves as tactical errors that will cause leadership to resist the group’s demands rather than embrace them.

“If I’m Scott Perry, this is the last thing I want making headlines leading into three weeks of session before the August recess,” a senior Republican aide told The Hill in response to news of Greene’s ouster. “All of the continuous drama surrounding [the House Freedom Caucus] has put their members at odds of getting any agenda items passed. It has to be tiring for leadership.”

In addition to moving to boot Greene, members of the group blocked legislative action on the House floor for a week in June over outrage about the debt ceiling bill and an alleged threat to keep legislation from coming to the floor. 

Later, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) and Boebert surprised leadership by making privileged motions to force action on flashy measures to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for his role in Trump investigations and to impeach Biden over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The GOP passed the measure to censure Schiff after leadership worked with Luna to adjust the language. Boebert’s effort didn’t fare as well —  House lawmakers opted to re-refer her impeachment articles to committees — but the Colorado firebrand is threatening to force floor votes once again if those panels don’t act on them. 

Harris, for his part, told reporters that Perry is a “true leader” and doing a “great job.”

And despite divisions on some issues, Freedom Caucus members say they are united on spending issues and their approach to securing cuts.

“We share a vision for reigning in wasteful government spending and re-focusing on the core functions of the government,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told Punchbowl News last week. “There are more of us on Appropriations now than there have ever been and that gives us a little bit more insight into the process and how to influence the process.”

GOP Congressman Who Was Target of January 6 Committee Says FBI Seized His Cellphone After Mar-a-Lago Raid

Representative Scott Perry, an ally of former Donald Trump and the current chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, says the FBI seized his cellphone a day after the unprecedented raid by agents on the Mar-a-Lago home of the former President.

The raid had reportedly involved an investigation into the handling of classified documents that may have been brought to Trump’s Palm Beach residence.

But the confiscation of Perry’s phone creates new questions as to the FBI’s intent, as the Pennsylvania Republican has been an ally of the former President in his quest to promote unproven election fraud claims, making him a target of the January 6 House select committee.

“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone,” Perry said in a statement. “They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish.”

“I’m outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland’s DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress,” he added.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton Pounces On Trump FBI Raid, Now Fundraising With ‘But Her Emails’ Merchandise

Scott Perry’s Cellphone Seized by the FBI

It’s difficult to ascertain why Scott Perry would be targeted by the FBI and have his cellphone seized one day after a raid on Mar-a-Lago.

Perry has a history of supporting Trump’s claims of election fraud, however, and has been a target of the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot.

He also, as Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) points out, has targeted Garland himself, filing articles of impeachment against the Attorney General in October of 2021.

Perry’s articles of impeachment accuse Garland of having “presided over a reckless and corrosive politicization of the Department of Justice at the expense of our Nation’s children.”

The articles at the time referenced the DOJ’s targeting of parents at school board meetings.

With that information as context, it’s easy to wonder if the seizure of Perry’s cellphone was politically motivated.

RELATED: ‘Some Third World Bulls***’ – Dan Bongino Goes Ballistic On Fox News Over FBI Raid of Trump’s Home

Why Did They Target a Sitting Congressman?

Unfortunately, without comment from the FBI at the present time, seizing Representative Scott Perry’s cell phone leads to major speculation.

Perry has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the select committee’s investigation into the January 6 riot, suggesting the anti-Trump panel is “illegitimate.”

POLL: Do you think the FBI raid of President Trump's home is politically motivated?

By voting, you agree to receive email communication from The Political Insider. Click HERE for more information.

The manner and mode of the raid have led conservatives to openly wonder if the FBI isn’t using the search for classified documents as a means to find evidence surrounding the Capitol riot.

Sirius XM podcast host Megyn Kelly expressed skepticism that the Mar-a-Lago raid was about classified documents at all.

“Bullshit – there is no way that’s what they were searching for,” she told listeners. “This is about January 6, and the never-ending desire to get Donald Trump on something.”

Perry suggested Garland’s Justice Department had plunged the United States into “banana republic” territory and noted if they were willing to seize his cellphone and information, and willing to raid a former President’s home, what will they do with their newfound power at the IRS?

The Political Insider reported earlier this week that the so-called Inflation Reduction Act passed by Senate Democrats over the weekend adds $80 billion to the IRS budget for enforcement purposes, allowing them to unleash roughly 87,000 new auditors on low-to-middle income Americans.

“As with President Trump last night, DOJ chose this unnecessary and aggressive action instead of simply contacting my attorneys,” Perry said.

“These kinds of banana republic tactics should concern every Citizen — especially considering the decision before Congress this week to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to further persecute law-abiding Citizens.”

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #3 on Feedspot’s “100 Best Political Blogs and Websites.”

The post GOP Congressman Who Was Target of January 6 Committee Says FBI Seized His Cellphone After Mar-a-Lago Raid appeared first on The Political Insider.