Ted Yoho: I stand with the House Freedom Caucus

The members of the House Freedom Caucus are the only ones in D.C. brave enough to say we have to change course.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to the media following a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in November. (Shutterstock)

Our nation is watching historic angst and drama play out in Washington, D.C., as the newly-elected Republicans, with a small majority, battle it out to choose the next speaker of the House.

On one side, you have the House Freedom Caucus (HFC). On the other side, you have the rest of the Republican Party. Presently, there have been 11 rounds of voting over the past three days to determine the next speaker for the 118th Congress. No nominated individual has garnered the needed 218 votes to claim victory. Kevin McCarthy is the nominee for the Republicans and the HFC has submitted three different choices, Reps. Andy Biggs, Jim Jordan, Byron Donalds, and Kevin Hern.

The vote for the speaker in a new congress has a preliminary vote in November after the general election when the newly-elected members come up to D.C. for orientation. This is is an unofficial vote and it is expected that whomever is chosen will be the next speaker.  Historically, this has generally held true but not always. This November’s election had 31 votes not supporting McCarthy for speaker.

If one listens to the mainstream media talking heads, the Freedom Caucus members are nothing but obstructionists, the “Hell No Caucus” or the “My Way or the Highway Caucus,”  or they are doing this for media attention. In reality, they are the very few of the 435 members of Congress who are saying “enough is enough” and want to address the true challenges facing America. They are bringing light to the causes of Washington’s dysfunction. Unjustly, they are being blamed for embarrassing the Republican Party and proving the Republicans can’t lead when given the opportunity.

The same conservative media that praised them in the past for being strong fighters to preserve the core principles that this nation was founded upon are now attacking them as hurting America by not electing a speaker to start business. The media wants to blame the HFC for the circus being played out on the world stage, the messy exhibit of American politics. The Founders warned us that to keep a Republic would be a fight. The media is great at portraying a crisis in the “now” while ignoring the serious problems in this country.

The media should instead highlight the major challenges America faces like the growing debt, uncontrolled migration at “all” borders of the U.S., a war on traditional values, woke-ism throughout government, high numbers of unemployed people who are not looking for work, declining academic achievement among our nation’s children, lack of energy security, supply chain issues, and geo-political unrest being orchestrated by an unchecked China and a misdirected Russia. Then ask: why have these issues not been dealt with in the past and who is best to lead the Republican conference to address these many chronic problems? Instead, the media fans the flames of discontent for ratings.

Who then is best suited to be elected speaker? Is it an establishment individual like McCarthy, who has been beating the same drum for the last 16 years that has created this nation’s woes? Or is it someone with new ideas willing to challenge and change the status quo? To answer this question it would behoove us to look at the nation in the recent past.

The nation 12 years ago was approximately $14 trillion in debt. Today, the national debt is over $33 trillion. We had border issues but not the uncontrolled migration due to failed policies that we see today. More than 2 million migrants in the last year alone have entered America. Look at our supply chain vulnerabilities, rising inflation and interest rates, and energy policies. Contrast them from the past to today and ask, are we better off? Then ask, what party and who in those parties were in charge? Both parties were in the majority for a period and we’ve had three different presidents, Obama, Trump, and Biden. So we can’t blame a president or party. Both have been complicit.

McCarthy has been there the whole time. I’m not suggesting the fault lies with him alone. The fault lies with the “Body Congress” not recognizing what the problems are and not having the will to enact long-term policy solutions with a strategy to resolve these issues for the benefit of the country, not the benefit of a party.

Congressman Ted Yoho speaking at the 2013 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

To illustrate one example, look at the nation’s debt. The national debt is unsustainable. It currently is $33 trillion and growing by the second. To contain the debt, Congress must do certain things they have either been unwilling to do or do not know how to do. It requires a process called regular order, which means all appropriations bills go to committees, are debated in committees, passed through committees in a bipartisan fashion, then passed in both chambers, and then signed into law. This is one of the primary functions of Congress, yet they have not done this since 1996. By accomplishing this, the nation’s funding is agreed on by both chambers, the government is funded on time, and there are no silly fights at the end of the fiscal year over shutting down the government. There are no continuing resolutions (CRs), which are the ultimate form of kicking the can down the road. Congress has had 37-plus CRs in the last nine years.

Regular order cannot be achieved when 4600-page bills constructed in committee rooms without members debating these issues in public are then brought to the floor and voted on by the members. The infamous Affordable Care Act was released and passed at night and not one member of Congress read the bill in its entirety before it was voted on and passed. We remember the infamous statement of Nancy Pelosi, “We have to pass it to see what’s in it.”

It just happened again with the 4600-page omnibus bill that no member in the House or Senate read, yet both chambers passed it with the Democrat majority and some Republican support. The 2019 omnibus bill was 2600 pages, brought to the floor at 11:45 p.m. by McCarthy. The House was to vote on it the next day, even though back then there was a 72-hour rule in place to allow members time to go through the bill. That rule was not honored by then Majority Leader McCarthy. Not one member in the House read the bill in its entirety, but it was voted on and passed by the Republican majority. It is the same playbook used by the Ds and Rs and it has led this nation to where we are now. It must stop and we have to change course.

In order to begin fixing the problems the nation faces we must do things differently in Washington. The Republican conference will come together in the next few days and a new speaker will be chosen by the Republican majority. The members of the House Freedom Caucus are the only ones in D.C. brave enough to say we have to change course. They are not doing this for show, media hits or fundraising. It is not easy to stand up to the establishment. Each of them is risking their political future. I know; I was there and did it.

I, for one, thank the HFC for having the courage to make a stand to change the status quo in Washington despite the vitriol that comes with standing by one’s convictions and principles. Let’s pray this brief moment of discord at the start of the 118th Congress will bring light to the broken system that has created these problems and the correct speaker will be chosen, one who is bold enough to change the playbook.

When Mrs. Powell asked Ben Franklin at Constitutional Hall in 1787 what form of government we had, his reply was: “A Republic, if you can keep it, ma’am.” That’s what this debate is and should always be about. It’s about the Republic. I stand with the House Freedom Caucus.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not represent an official position of Alpha News. 


Ted Yoho

Ted Yoho is a former Republican congressman who represented Florida's Third Congressional District from 2013 to 2021.