Congress

Rep. Mark Meadows elected chair of House Freedom Caucus

House Government Operations subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. jokes on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 12, 2016.
House Government Operations subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. jokes on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 12, 2016. AP

Rep. Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican who helped prompt House Speaker John Boehner’s exit from Capitol Hill, has been elected chair of the House Freedom Caucus.

Meadows, R-N.C., was unanimously elected to lead the group of conservative Republicans Monday after Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the current chair, declined to seek a third term heading the group.

"I am honored and humbled to receive the support of my colleagues for chairman of the House Freedom Caucus," Meadows said in a statement. "It is a position that I take very seriously, and as we look toward the coming year, I am tremendously excited about the opportunities we will have to make a difference for Americans on Main Street."

The Freedom Caucus has a membership of more than three-dozen lawmakers. It has clashed with House Republican leadership in the chamber, complaining that it’s been too willing to cut deals with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats and too swift in squashing conservative –driven proposals and views.

Meadows experienced the wrath of the leadership: he had his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subcommittee chairmanship taken away in June 2015, only to be reinstated.

He became a conservative folk hero in 2015 when he introduced a motion to vacate the chair, a maneuver to oust Boehner, R-Ohio, from the speaker’s chair.

Boehner scoffed the motion at the time, saying "Listen, this is one member, all right?"

"I’ve got broad support amongst my colleagues," Boehner told reporters. "And frankly, it isn’t even deserving of a vote."

A vote never occurred. But Meadows’ measure, coupled with gnawing criticism by Freedom Caucus members and outside conservative groups, helped push Boehner into retiring from Congress last year.

Boehner handed the speaker’s gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who hasn’t been immune to Freedom Caucus criticism.

Meadows was first elected to the House in 2012, winning an open seat created by the redistricting-prompted retirement of Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. Before coming to Washington, Meadows opened a sandwich shop in Highlands, N.C.

He and his wife, Debbie, moved to the North Carolina mountains after he graduated from the University of South Florida in 1981. 

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