Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) has been elected the new chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of conservative members in Congress who have allied themselves closely with President Trump, the group announced Tuesday. He will take over from current chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Oct. 1.
“I’m grateful for the trust of my colleagues in selecting me to serve as the next chairman of the House Freedom Caucus,” said Biggs, who has been a member of the caucus since he joined the House in 2017.
In the group’s statement, Biggs pledged to fight against increased government spending, high health-care costs and “loopholes that incentivize illegal entry” into the country.
“We will stand with President Trump as he keeps his promises to the American people,” he added.
Biggs, who represents Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, is an outspoken conservative voice in the House, where he is a member of the Judiciary and Science and Technology committees. He has come out in support of private prisons that allegedly allow immigrant detainees to work for as little as $1 a day, supported the Trump administration idea of sending undocumented immigrants to “sanctuary cities” and contributed to an effort to transform the investigation into the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey into a probe of Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
Founded in 2015 when Republicans held a majority in the House, the tea party-aligned Freedom Caucus is often seen as the extreme-right group in the House Republican Conference. Organizers say it was formed to keep leaders accountable, but in practice, the caucus has worked as “a bloc just big enough to challenge any vote and often succeeded in pulling policy discussions further to the right than was tenable,” The Washington Post’s Ben Terris writes.
Former Republican House speaker John A. Boehner, who was effectively pushed out of his role by members of the caucus in 2015, described them as “anarchists.”
Its roughly three dozen members include Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both fervent supporters of the president.
In June this year, the group was hit by the exit of one of its founders, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.). The 39-year-old stepped down from the group after tweeting that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report documented the Trump administration and campaign engaging in “impeachable conduct” — a position that even some Democrats have been reluctant to adopt.
“Justin Amash’s conclusions are poorly informed and fatally flawed and don’t represent the views of any of the Freedom Caucus members that I’m aware of,” Meadows said at the time.
In July, Amash announced that he was leaving the GOP to become an independent.