A few times each month, a couple dozen House Republican lawmakers gather in a meeting room in a building adjacent to Capitol to discuss ideas and legislative proposals that focus on limited government, reducing the debt and maintaining individual rights.
The group considers itself conservative with a libertarian emphasis. They call themselves the Liberty Caucus and believe that in order for the GOP to win more elections in the future, the party must begin embracing their libertarian-minded philosophy because voters are beginning to demand it, particularly in the wake of government data collection revelations that some believe infringe on privacy rights.
"I think you are seeing a movement in the Republican Party where it is becoming more liberty minded," Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a member of the Liberty Caucus, told the Washington Examiner.
"Issues like [government data collection by the National Security Administration] have really enlightened Republicans to the dangers of the lack of strong congressional oversight of these organizations, so I think we need to get back to the basic doctrine of the constitution. Our Founding Fathers had a fear of strong central government and too much power being given to one person. That is the premise of what the constitution was about."
Labrador said younger Republicans especially are beginning to embrace this libertarian-minded view point.
"We are the future of the Republican Party," Labrador, who was elected to Congress in 2010, said of the Liberty Caucus.
The philosophy of the caucus dovetails with the GOP's conservative wing on some issues, such as debt reduction, reining in government spending and opposition to the new health care law. But it differs on others, in particular on national security. While many Liberty Caucus members are opposed to the government surveillance program that has permitted officials to gather huge amounts of private phone and internet data in an effort to thwart terrorism, most mainstream GOP lawmakers have shown far less opposition and have defended it as necessary for preserving national security.
Despite some philosophical similarities, neither mainstream Republicans nor their leadership are embracing the Liberty Caucus and in many cases are standing in the way of their ideas, refusing to take up their legislation and stripping members of important committee assignments for bucking the leadership on key votes.
It's a clash that threatens to further divide the GOP, which has already been fractured by the Tea Party movement. Many of the Liberty Caucus members also consider themselves Tea Party members.
The fight will play out in the 2014 elections, with outside groups that back the Liberty Caucus philosophy supporting a long list of like-minded GOP candidates who would expand the group's ranks in Congress and make it a more powerful voting bloc in both the House and Senate.
More of the article at link: http://washingtonexaminer.com/libertarian-wing-of-gop-gains-strength-in-congress/article/2542802