House Freedom Caucus hires first staffer

House Freedom Caucus hires first staffer
© Greg Nash

The House Freedom Caucus, the nascent group of conservative lawmakers who’ve frustrated GOP leaders, has hired its first staff member as it gears up for upcoming spending battles.

Steve Chartan will serve as executive director of the Freedom Caucus, the group said Friday.

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Chartan, who begins his new job Monday, served as a policy adviser for the Senate Steering Committee under both Chairman Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (R-Utah) and past-Chairman Pat Toomey (R-Pa). Before that, he was a legislative aide in Toomey’s Senate office.

“Steve’s experience on the Senate Steering Committee makes him an ideal executive director for the House Freedom Caucus,” the group’s chairman, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTalk of unproven FBI 'plant' in Trump campaign circulates among Republicans Farm bill revolt could fuel Dreamer push House rejects farm bill as conservatives revolt MORE (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

“His relationships on and off the Hill will help HFC to successfully promote common-sense solutions that benefit the countless Americans who feel that they are forgotten by Washington.”

Chartan’s hiring is yet another sign that the Freedom Caucus, which launched in January, is taking additional steps to organize ahead of looming fights within the GOP over the budget, lifting the debt ceiling and whether the Export-Import Bank should be renewed.

The Freedom Caucus, which Jordan described to The Wall Street Journal as an “agile, active group” of about 40 Republicans devoted to limited-government principles, helped derail Speaker John Boehner’s GOP plan to extend funding for the Homeland Security Department for three weeks.

House Republicans’ failure to pass the bill meant Boehner, an Ohio Republican like Jordan, was forced to rely on Democrats to prevent a shutdown at the agency, raising more questions about the Speaker’s political vulnerabilities.

The invite-only group is seen as a rival to the much larger, more inclusive Republican Study Committee, which is closer to Boehner and his team. Majority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) had served as RSC chairman before stepping down to take the No. 3 job in leadership. And current RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas) has expressed a willingness to work with leadership behind the scenes.