It was one of House conservatives’ biggest demands: more representation on key committees and in senior roles. They got both, and they’re still bragging about it.
At a House Freedom Caucus fundraiser in Tennessee last month, the conservative group’s chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) boasted to donors about what it extracted from McCarthy. That included gaining the Homeland Security Committee gavel for a group member after securing Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) eventual chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee (he first served as the top Republican on the House Oversight panel).
Jordan’s position, Perry claimed at the event, was based on “leverage, too.” In reality, though, that position had long been expected given Jordan and McCarthy’s increasingly close relationship.
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), a member of the Freedom Caucus who was present at the event, now chairs the homeland security panel after the protracted speakership battle.
“Now we knew we were going to have a dog in the fight … we also knew the competition,” Perry said of the homeland chairmanship race – apparently referring to Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) — according to an audio recording obtained by POLITICO.
“And one of the conversations was: If that other person becomes the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, then you will not be speaker.”
While the GOP Steering Committee mostly decides panel chairs, the process is heavily influenced by the speaker. (Green’s position, as well as other competitive chair positions, were decided by the Steering panel after McCarthy’s election on the floor.) Green’s allies have argued that his win was more than just a tradeoff, saying it was a win-win given his resume and vision for the panel. A Crenshaw aide, responding to Perry’s words, called the apparent deal the “worst kept secret in Washington.”
Additionally, two of the GOP’s most conservative members — Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — were placed on the lower-profile but powerful Rules Committee. It was perhaps the most decentralizing move McCarthy made; the Rules panel decides exactly the way legislation comes to the House floor, empowering Roy and Massie to block certain bills or push for changes.
Conservatives gained more representation on other key committees, too. Two of the 20 holdout members landed on the Financial Services panel and two others got seats on Appropriations. And even Freedom Caucus members who were supportive of McCarthy landed on other top panels, like Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), who received a spot on Energy and Commerce.