Rep. Scott Perry
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., speaks during a House Freedom Caucus news conference outside the Capitol in Washington in February 2022. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Freedom Caucus likely to play a bigger role in new GOP-led House. So who are they?

February 10, 2023
3 mins read

The 118th Congress hadn’t even officially gotten underway before the House Freedom Caucus began exercising its influence. Nearly all of the 20 or so Republican House members who threatened to torpedo Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid belong to the Freedom Caucus or are closely aligned with it (though more than half of caucus members and allies did back McCarthy from the start).

McCarthy eventually won the speaker’s gavel on the 15th ballot, but not until he agreed to ensure more Freedom Caucus representation on the powerful Rules Committee and other key panels. McCarthy also agreed to a passel of rule changes long sought by the Freedom Caucus, many of them intended to shift power away from the speaker’s office and toward committee chairs and rank-and-file members.

Those changes, along with the narrow margin of Republican control of the House, make it likely we’ll be hearing a lot more about – and from – House Freedom Caucus members over the next two years. But just who are they?

Unlike most of the dozens of caucuses and single-issue groups on Capitol Hill, the Freedom Caucus doesn’t publicize its membership, which reportedly is by invitation only. However, Pew Research Center has identified 49 House members – 22% of the entire House GOP conference – who either belong to the Freedom Caucus or are closely aligned with it. (Read the “How we did this” box to learn how we identified members and allies.)

How we did this

Ideologically, Freedom Caucus members and allies are among the most conservative of House Republicans, with several falling on the rightmost end of the spectrum.

To quantify this, we used a dataset called DW-NOMINATE, first developed by political scientists Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal in the early 1980s and refined and updated since. In simplified form, DW-NOMINATE assigns each representative a score ranging from -1 (most liberal) to +1 (most conservative), based on their roll call voting patterns. (Since the 73 freshmen members of the 118th House – i.e., those who were elected for the first time in the November 2022 midterms – don’t yet have voting records to analyze, they’re excluded from the ideological analysis below.)

A chart showing that a typical House Freedom Caucus member or ally is more conservative than other Republicans in the chamber

The Freedom Caucus members and allies have a median DW-NOMINATE score of +0.681, substantially higher than the median for all other House GOP members (+0.455). The least conservative Freedom Caucus-aligned member, in fact, is still more conservative than the median non-Freedom Caucus House Republican. And 10 Freedom Caucus members are more conservative than the most conservative nonmember.

In January 2021, the Freedom Caucus was almost unanimous in opposing the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump. Of the 40 current Freedom Caucus members and allies who were serving at that time, 38 supported at least one objection to counting Biden’s electoral votes. A smaller share of all other House Republicans seated at the time (about 60%) did so.

A bar chart showing that in the U.S. House, Freedom Caucus members and allies have less seniority than other Republicans

Freedom Caucus members and their allies also have spent decidedly less time in the House than other members of the GOP conference. Some 71% of the identified members and allies of the caucus (35 of 49) have served in Congress for six years or fewer, a count that includes nine freshmen. The longest-serving Freedom Caucus member, new House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, is in his ninth term. By contrast, 58% of all other House Republicans (101 of 173) have spent six years or less in Congress, and 17 of them (10%) have served in the House for a total of 20 years or longer.

Freedom Caucus members and allies are more likely to come from the South than non-Freedom Caucus Republicans. Nearly two-thirds of the Freedom Caucus members and allies we identified (32 of 49) represent districts in the 16-state Southern region, as defined by the Census Bureau. That compares with 46% of all other House Republicans. Freedom Caucus members and allies are somewhat more likely than other House Republicans to be from the West, and less likely to be from the Midwest. Only one Freedom Caucus member, Chairman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, comes from the Northeast.

Demographically, the Freedom Caucus group looks much like the rest of the House GOP. Only four members and allies (8.2%) identify as a different race or ethnicity than non-Hispanic White, compared with 9.8% of other House Republicans. Seven of the caucus and its associates (14.3%) are women, versus 15% of other House Republicans. And their average ages – 56.3 and 56.7, respectively – are almost identical.

118th Congress House Freedom Caucus members and allies

StateDistrictRepresentative
AZ5Andy Biggs
NC8Dan Bishop
CO3Lauren Boebert
OK2Josh Brecheen
CO4Ken Buck
MO7Eric Burlison
VA6Ben Cline
TX27Michael Cloud
GA9Andrew Clyde
GA10Mike Collins
AZ2Eli Crane
OH8Warren Davidson
TN4Scott DesJarlais
FL19Byron Donalds
SC3Jeff Duncan
ID1Russ Fulcher
FL1Matt Gaetz
VA5Bob Good
AZ9Paul Gosar
TN7Mark Green
GA14Marjorie Taylor Greene
VA9Morgan Griffith
WYAt largeHarriet Hageman
MD1Andy Harris
TN1Diana Harshbarger
LA3Clay Higgins
TX13Ronny Jackson
LA4Mike Johnson
OH4Jim Jordan
AZ8Debbie Lesko
FL13Anna Paulina Luna
IL15Mary Miller
OH7Max Miller
WV2Alex Mooney
AL2Barry Moore
NC3Greg Murphy
TX22Troy Nehls
SC5Ralph Norman
TN5Andy Ogles
AL6Gary Palmer
PA10Scott Perry
FL8Bill Posey
MT2Matt Rosendale
TX21Chip Roy
AZ1David Schweikert
TX3Keith Self
FL17Greg Steube
WI7Tom Tiffany
TX14Randy Weber

Note: Data as of Jan. 23, 2023.

BY DREW DESILVER

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