WASHINGTON ― After close to two years with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sitting atop the House Freedom Caucus, members of the conservative group elected Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) Monday night to serve as the new chairman.
In the basement of Tortilla Coast ― a Capitol Hill watering hole where the group used to meet until they started going to a local Chinese restaurant, which recently had a fire ― members unanimously elected Meadows to serve as the new chairman after Jordan declined to serve a third term.
“We’re going to continue to work on the success that Jim Jordan laid down before us,” Meadows told The Huffington Post Monday night, mentioning that Jordan would now serve as “chairman emeritus.”
Meadows did say he expected the Freedom Caucus to take a more “policy driven” approach this year, and that the group expected to hire a new policy director soon ― a position that has been vacant since the first policy director, Justin Ouimette, moved up to fill a vacancy as the HFC’s executive director.
Meadows, a Republican entering his third term, is famous in conservative circles for being the member who, in 2015, introduced a motion to vacate the chair against former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). While Boehner ultimately left on his own, Meadows’s resolution helped push the speaker out the door.
Meadows also temporarily lost his position chairing the Subcommittee on Government Operations after he voted against a rule on trade legislation, before Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and other GOP leaders realized they could face significant blowback if they didn’t reinstate him.
Meadows is known among Republican colleagues for his personal friendliness, despite being a hardline conservative.
That popularity and those right-wing credentials also played a part in Meadows establishing a cozy relationship with President-elect Donald Trump. The GOP candidate had taken to praising Meadows in the final weeks of the race when he was campaigning in North Carolina, even though Meadows originally backed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for president.
In a statement Monday night, Jordan congratulated Meadows on becoming the new chairman and said he was certain Meadows would work to fulfill the promises Republicans had made to their constituents.
“I know that Mark has a passion for conservative principles and for serving his district and ordinary Americans across the country who feel forgotten by Washington,” Jordan said.