“You think I am crazy, and I know you are not” is what future-White House Chief of Staff and then-House Freedom Caucus leader Congressman Mick Mulvaney said to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The two members of Congress were playing a game of chicken that helps explain the tactics and strategies at the heart of Matthew Green
’s new book Legislative Hardball: The House Freedom Caucus and the Power of Threat-Making in Congress
(Cambridge University Press, 2019). Green is associate professor of politics at The Catholic University. He previously appeared on the podcast with his book Underdog Politics: The Minority Party in the U.S. House of Representatives
. He is also the author of Choosing the Leader: Leadership Elections in the U.S. House of Representatives
(with Doug Harris) (Yale University Press, 2019).
Assertive bargaining occurs from time to time in the US Congress. It became an important feature of legislative negotiations within the House Republican Party when, following the 2014 elections, a group of conservatives called the House Freedom Caucus regularly issued threats against its own party's leadership. Such behavior by an ideologically extreme bloc of lawmakers is not accounted for by existing theories of legislative politics. Green studies the successes and failures of the Freedom Caucus, in Legislative Hardball
, as well as the larger topic of contentious leadership battles in the House in Choosing the Leader