The House Freedom Caucus is eyeing its biggest power play since it pushed out John Boehner as speaker last year.
Members of the group of far-right agitators are considering a plan to run one of their own as a candidate for the Republican Study Committee chairmanship this fall in a bid to push the conservative group further to the right.
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Seizing control of the RSC would be the latest show of clout for the group of about 40 conservatives, which in its mere two-year existence has upended the House Republican Conference and infuriated GOP leaders with its no-holds-barred legislative tactics.
Several caucus members in recent days have threatened to leave the RSC, criticizing the group as a puppet of House Republican leadership that no longer stands for conservative values. The RSC, now comprised of nearly 180 members, had long been regarded as the leading group in the House for staunch conservatives.
Freedom Caucus insiders say the group hasn’t committed to backing a specific candidate, and they could still decide to abandon the RSC in a mass exodus. But at least two caucus members, Reps. Andy Harris of Maryland and Trent Franks of Arizona, have expressed interest in running for the post.
“Do we restore the RSC into a conservative wing of the conference that forges policy? Or do we just give up on RSC?” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), arguing that the study committee has “changed over the last couple terms to be much less independent and more under leadership’s guidance.”
Asked how the Freedom Caucus would “restore” the RSC, he mused: “If we were to get someone on the Freedom Caucus in leadership.”
Clinching that post would likely be the group’s biggest achievement since it drove Boehner to …