Republican senators announce formation of ‘Freedom Caucus’

Freedom is the watchword for the new Senate Freedom Caucus, announced Thursday by lawmakers to advocate for lower taxes, responsible state spending, individual liberties and a government that gets out of the people’s way.

The Freedom Caucus will advocate for core conservative principles. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said the new caucus will tackle big-picture issues that often cannot be encompassed by broader political caucuses that must represent a wide variety of views.

The new caucus will put its emphasis on the direction and role of government. Key issues include the rights of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution, with a particular emphasis on the economic freedoms that underpin the free-market economy. Top concerns include the sweeping agenda being pushed by Gov. Jay Inslee and majority Democrats this year as the public is excluded from Olympia by COVID precautions. Also of concern are arbitrary edicts from the governor’s office regarding the shutdown of the Washington economy, and the lack of public input into decision-making.

Founding members of the Freedom Caucus are Ericksen, Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham.

“Never has the need for a Freedom Caucus been so great,” Fortunato said. “Legislative Democrats this year are pushing one of the most radical agendas in Washington history. While the public is forced to stay home, a narrow band of urban activists are pushing an income tax, measures to increase gas prices, and legislation to erode the people’s rights under the Constitution. Rather than working to make these bad ideas somewhat better, we need to draw the line and make ourselves heard. We don’t want to throw a drowning person a life preserver. We want to pull people out of the water.”