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Freshmen backed by Freedom Caucus aren't committing to joining

Simone Pathe, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The House Freedom Caucus is currently down seven members from the 114th Congress -- and possibly two more.

South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney is awaiting confirmation as President-elect Donald Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget.

And Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine is said to be under consideration for a position in the incoming administration.

Five candidates endorsed by the caucus' political arm, the House Freedom Fund, won in safe Republican districts last November. But not all of them have committed to join if invited.

Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina isn't concerned. He predicted the caucus' numbers will be "plus or minus one of where we've been in the past," once invitations are extended to members of the 115th Congress. The caucus does not publicize its membership, but there were believed to be about 40 members at the end of the 114th Congress.

The members who could replenish the caucus ranks won't all be freshmen, Meadows said last week.

"There's not necessarily direct correlation between our PAC support and caucus membership," he said.

The Freedom Fund ran TV ads for Indiana's Jim Banks, then a state senator, in a competitive open primary to replace former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a member of the Freedom Caucus who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate.

Banks said he hasn't received an invitation yet. But he's remained noncommittal on joining the caucus if he does get one. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," a spokeswoman for Banks said this week.

The 3rd District congressman, who hasn't ruled out a bid for Senate in 2018, has already been named the freshman representative on the Republican Study Committee's steering committee.

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