DesJarlais defends ‘misunderstood’ House Freedom Caucus

In interviews with Tennessee media, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is defending House Republicans’ Freedom Caucus against what he says is unfair criticism.

From from Michael Collins’ story (Commercial Appeal version):

Among establishment Republicans, the caucus has a reputation as being a bunch of stubborn, uncompromising rascals hellbent on getting their way, even if it means taking down their leaders and leaving the House in a suspended state of turmoil.

But DesJarlais insists the caucus is getting a bad rap. “I think it’s a misunderstood group,” he said.

As proof, DesJarlais points to the group’s choice for House speaker. DesJarlais wanted the next speaker to be the Freedom Caucus’ chairman, Jim Jordan of Ohio. But the caucus backed Rep. Daniel Webster, a little-known Florida Republican who is not a member of the organization “and, frankly, doesn’t have the most conservative of scores,” DesJarlais said.

Regardless, Webster’s promise to change the process and the power structure in the House struck a chord with the caucus “because it lets every member be relevant,” DesJarlais said.

“No one gets their way all of the time,” he said. “But there are members in the Republican conference that, if you’re not a good fundraiser or you don’t go along with leadership, you get pushed to the back and you often don’t get committees that you’re perfectly capable of serving on. And you don’t get legislation brought to the floor.

“That’s what the House Freedom Caucus is all about, bringing that voice back to the conference as a whole — not getting their way all of the time.”

DesJarlais thinks McCarthy probably made the right decision in getting out of the speaker’s race and sees his downfall as just the latest sign that the country wants new direction and new leaders.

From The Daily News Journal:

DesJarlais contends that he and his fellow House Freedom Caucus members should not be criticized for the conservative principles they expect from the speaker.

“It’s sad that there are members within our Republican Caucus that seem to be doing that to a group of 40 people who are very talented and very capable of doing the job they were elected to do,” the Republican lawmaker from South Pittsburg said during a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “They see it as a threat to the K Street (where lobbyists work) power structure that rules this town.”

DesJarlais disagrees with complaints that the Freedom Caucus was making too many demands on retiring House Speaker John Boehner and in the selection of Boehner’s successor.

“They think we should be more compromising,” said DesJarlais, noting that he must represent expectations from his constituents in Tennessee, which includes Rutherford County.