CHARLOTTE – The House Freedom Caucus and its chair, Congressman Mark Meadows, have a tendency to ruffle the feathers of the Republican establishment. That’s why it’s no surprise that former Congressman Robert Pittenger, who lost the 9th District 2018 Republican primary election to Mark Harris, is “blasting” Meadows in a recent op-ed in the Charlotte Observer.
The main thrust of the op-ed? That Meadows and the Freedom Caucus make it hard to pass legislation.
From the Charlotte Observer:
“[…] Perhaps the biggest frustration was the lack of getting consensus to pass important legislation. Remember, the Republicans had 240 House members; only 218 votes are required for passage of any bill. So what’s the problem? The Freedom Caucus and others, who should be designated as members of the “Hope yes, vote no caucus.”
We passed a budget bill that included critical funding for national defense. But to get it passed in the Senate we had to add billions in federal assistance programs to appease Democrats. Rep. Patrick McHenry and I were the only N.C. delegation members to vote for it, while others chose to duck and run and let us take the heat. These critical security votes allowed Mark Harris to call me a liberal.[..]”
That’s funny; some would suggest that keeping Washington from passing ever more laws, especially ones that cave into Democrats’ demands for bigger and bigger government handouts, is the whole point of having a caucus of principled conservatives.
Pittenger boasts that, of the N.C. delegation, only he and Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC-10), literally a Republican House leadership (establishment) member, voted for a budget that added billions to wealth redistribution programs. The others chose not to vote to bestow such government largesse, and their the problem? Mark Harris seems to have had a point.
The former congressman was far from finished with Meadows and the Freedom Caucus, however.
“How about the Freedom Caucus in this legislative process? The most dangerous place in Washington is between Rep. Mark Meadows and a media camera. Mark will sound off against the Speaker or anyone to stake out a claim that he is the champion of conservatives, while he understands the reality that passing legislation requires additional funding to get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.
Ronald Reagan would have never been accepted by the Freedom Caucus. Reagan, the icon of conservatives, often said “I will take half a loaf now and come back for the rest of it later.” In addition to a health care bill, we lost immigration reform and $25 billion of border wall funding a year ago because Meadows and his pals would not accept DACA. Get over it, the kids are grown up and are living here. They are not going anywhere and the Freedom Caucus chose to grandstand and lose the opportunity to stop the hemorrhage at the border. Now we are bickering with Pelosi and Schumer trying to get $5 billion and likely won’t get that.
Mr. President, Mark Meadows and the Freedom Caucus are not your friends. They laud you on Fox News then undermine your legislation. Had we passed healthcare and immigration reform with border funding we would have likely kept the House.”
Here, Pittenger defends the ‘business as usual’ approach to Washington, D.C., accepting without question the need to horse trade in order to put another notch in your legislative belt. No matter that to be successful, as Pittenger defines it, means bending to the will of the Left.
He mentions Reagan, a virtue signaling of sorts, and suggests the late president would not have been conservative enough for the Freedom Caucus. He points to the failure to pass a healthcare reform bill (which would have enshrined Obamacare-lite for years to come), and immigration reform (which would have granted amnesty) as examples of the Freedom Caucus’s intransigence. While it may have frustrated the establishment’s desire to pass something, anything, that can they could spin as a win, there is something to be said for lawmakers that stand immovable on issues of principle.
It was Reagan, after all, that gave the green light to amnesty for millions. For all the conservative wins on Reagan’s presidential resume, this issue sticks out as a mistake that actually led to our current dilemma.
Actually, like the Freedom Caucus, Reagan had his own reputation for his unwillingness to compromise on principle. He famously fired striking air traffic controllers for failing to live up to the oath they swore upon taking those jobs, and banned them for life from federal service. This seems like the kind of principled action Pittenger is complaining the Freedom Caucus to often employs in the current day.
So, the former congressman wishes these stubborn conservatives would just “grow up” and play the game Washington, D.C. demands of them. Because they refuse, on principle, lawmakers like Pittenger don’t get to carry on the status quo. That, it seems, has left them with a lot of sour grapes to gripe about.