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House Freedom Caucus leader sees better days under McCarthy

“Nancy Pelosi ran Congress like a prison camp,” Rep. Scott Perry said Sunday in saying why he thinks Congress will be better now with Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the head of the House Freedom Caucus made the statement about the former House speaker in explaining why he had switched his vote to backing McCarthy after repeatedly rejecting him. McCarthy was elected speaker late Friday after overcoming opposition from Perry (R-Pa.) and other Republicans that had persisted over several days.

“Let me start with this,” Perry told host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “Frederick Douglass, who knew something about power, said power concedes nothing without a demand, never has and never will. This is never about Kevin McCarthy; this is about power for the American people and, with all due respect, Nancy Pelosi ran Congress like a prison camp with no accountability.”

For her part, Pelosi said last week that she saw the whole battle as damaging to the institution that she led in two four-year stints.

“All who serve in the House share a responsibility to bring dignity to this body,” she tweeted on Jan. 4. “Sadly, Republicans’ cavalier attitude in electing a Speaker is frivolous, disrespectful and unworthy of this institution.”

Perry has been under investigation in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and other efforts to keep former President Donald Trump in office after he lost the 2020 election; the House select committee on Jan. 6 referred Perry for a review by the House Ethics Committee. He was one of 19 Republicans who opposed McCarthy from the outset, though all 19 (as well as two others who stopped voting for McCarthy at some point in the process) ultimately got out of the way of McCarthy’s election so that the California Republican could be elected on the 15th ballot.

The Douglass quote that Perry cited is attributed to an 1857 speech the former slave made in New York state while fighting for the abolition of slavery. He added: “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.”

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