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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ken Buck voted out of House Freedom Caucus

PoliticsKen Buck voted out of House Freedom Caucus

The House Freedom Caucus has booted Rep. Ken Buck from the arch-conservative group just days before he resigns from Congress.

Mr. Buck was informed of his HFC membership revocation, which members of the group said was due to his increasingly anti-Republican rhetoric and his early departure further eroding the GOP‘s razor-thin majority in the House.

The Colorado Republican is quitting Congress on Friday, an early retirement that he blamed on the dysfunction of the House Republican leadership.

His early departure from Congress will reduce the House Republican majority to 218 to 213. House Speaker Mike Johnson will be able to lose just two votes to pass Republican legislation.

A Freedom Caucus member said Mr. Buck’s removal was based on issues ranging from breaking with Republicans on too many key issues to leaving the conference at a time when the GOP controls the lower chamber with a historically narrow margin.

“HFC does not comment on membership or internal processes,” a Freedom Caucus spokesman said in response to inquiries about Mr. Buck’s ouster.

Just minutes before being told he was no longer a Freedom Caucus member, he told The Washington Times that the GOP Conference during his nine years in office became too “MAGA” for him.

“I think we are less of a conservative party and more of a MAGA party now,” said Mr. Buck who considered himself a “tea party” Republican when he was first elected.

“When I was part of the tea party movement in ’09 and ’10, it was all about strict constructionism in terms of how we looked at the Constitution,” he said.

He added that the impeachments of former President Donald Trump were “ridiculous” but that the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the “threatened impeachment” of President Biden are “wrong.”

Mr. Buck defended his earlier-than-expected departure, saying that other GOP lawmakers recently exited Congress, including Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California.

Mr. McCarthy quit Congress after he was ousted from the speaker post with the help of Mr. Buck, who joined seven other Republicans and all Democrats to eject Mr. McCarthy from the chamber’s top job.

The Times has reached out for comment to Mr. Buck’s office since his ouster but did not immediately hear back.

Mr. Buck began his congressional tenure at a time when the invite-only Freedom Caucus was launched in 2015 from a small faction of members within the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Mr. Buck was among several GOP lawmakers in the group who found himself at odds with Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican who Mr. Buck previously described as having a “bullying” style and mounting a “war on conservatives,” particularly with those in the Freedom Caucus.

More recently, Mr. Buck became an outspoken critic of his Republican Party, fueling speculation that he was seeking a job as a TV news commentator. He has denied this allegation.

“I have no no contracts. I have nothing set in stone at this point,” he told The Times. “I will go look and try to make sure that I am still making a difference.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican who also was ousted from the Freedom Caucus last year after a public floor altercation with HFC member Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, blasted Mr. Buck for his abrupt exit from Congress. She said it would hurt Ms. Boebert’s reelection run in Mr. Buck’s district.

At the time of Ms. Greene’s ouster from the group, Mr. Buck told NBC News she deserved it for “consistently” attacking other members of the Freedom Caucus “in an irresponsible way.”

As for Ms. Boebert, she has called his early exit a “gift to the uniparty,” a derogatory term for establishment Republicans who compromise with Democrats.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, scheduled the special election and GOP congressional primary to happen on the same day, June 25.

Ms. Boebert and Ms. Greene say that will confuse voters and result in a lame-duck congressman following the special election, and leave Colorado’s 4th Congressional District with no representation for more than three months.

Correction: In a previous version of the story, Alejandro Mayorkas’ last name was misspelled.

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