MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — President Trump took on members of his own party on Twitter Thursday. Following last week’s health care defeat, he tweeted:
All this talk of the House Freedom Caucus raises Good Questions about politics like, what is a congressional caucus? And how do they work?
It’s for elected officials to declare what’s important to them — the “bourbon caucus” is chaired by members from Kentucky, for example.
There are more than 300 caucuses in total — they’re officially known as “Congressional Member Organizations.” Some members are a part of multiple caucuses.
“I think the average for the last Congress was 30 for house members,” Kathryn Pearson, who studies the U.S. Congress at the University of Minnesota, said. “The activities for caucuses vary tremendously. Some meet quite regularly to strategize about how to make a policy impact, and some really focus on getting publicity for one particular issue.”
Caucuses have to register with the House of Representatives and can’t have dedicated staff or office space.
“You have everything from caucuses that focus on asthma, to rural issues, to veterans,” Pearson said.
There are many you may have heard of, like the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and, yes, the House Freedom Caucus, which has around three dozen conservative, Republican members.
“The freedom caucus is unique. It’s not the only intra-party caucus,” Pearson said. “They have made a name for themselves for their strategy, and, at times, their refusal to work with party leaders.”
There are also you probably haven’t heard of, like the Cement Caucus or the Hockey Caucus, which is co-chaired by Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen.
“There are a lot of caucuses that are really about members’ interests, and some of these relate to constituents’ interests as well,” Pearson said. “But it might also be a form of bipartisan cooperation for some members who have some particular shared interest.”
The candy caucus is for real and has two co-chairs– One Republican, one Democrat. It was started last year as a way to support candy makers and the jobs they create.