Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Louisiana House conservatives form new Freedom Caucus

by BIZ Magazine

By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

At least three conservative Republicans in the Louisiana House of Representatives formed the new House Freedom Caucus, a group that is part of a national network with ties to the U.S. House Freedom Caucus in Congress.

The local Freedom Caucus publicly launched Wednesday, a few days ahead of the start of the Louisiana Legislature’s regular session this year. The group is refusing to name its members publicly, and only legislators who receive a personal invitation are able to join the organization. 

Reps. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, Larry Frieman, R-Abita Springs, and Beryl Amedee, R-Gray, revealed themselves to be the group’s founding officers, but it’s unclear how many other legislators are part of the organization. Seabaugh will serve as chairman. 

“We were approached by people in folks in Washington D.C. [to form the Freedom Caucus],” Frieman said in an interview Wednesday. “The people who were invited [to join the caucus] were invited by people in Washington D.C.”

The Congressional Freedom Caucus doesn’t reveal the names of its members either, a policy that has “trickled down” to the state level, Frieman said.

The Louisiana House has two other politically conservative caucuses. Rep. Blake Miguez, R-New Iberia, oversees the House Republican Caucus with 70 members, and Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, runs the House Conservative Caucus with 42 members. 

McFarland said he believes the Freedom Caucus will likely stake out territory to the right of his group, which focuses on “good fiscal policy,” gun rights and abortion, but doesn’t take positions on other issues. He hasn’t been invited to join the Freedom Caucus.

The local group will also be part of a wider national network. Freedom Caucus members said Louisiana is the 11th state to start a Freedom Caucus chapter and staff for the national network will help Louisiana’s caucus with research and vetting bills.

The Congressional Freedom Caucus gained notoriety earlier this year when some of its members refused to back California Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, causing a days-long standoff over who would be the chamber leader. In exchange for their support, McCarthy agreed to put more Freedom Caucus members on powerful committees and to back some procedural changes over how the House works.

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