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The Freedom Caucus Makes News, but What About the Chicken Caucus?

Congress has 410 different caucuses, covering everything from algae to wine.

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By Eric Pianin

October 23, 2015


When members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus meet in private, they typically discuss ways to thwart or topple their more moderate House Republican leaders or alter the rules to give rank and file members more legislative clout.

Not so for the House Chicken Caucus, which was formed this year by two lawmakers, a Democrat and a Republican, from poultry regions in California and Arkansas. Members of the caucus view their mandate as educating their colleagues and the public “about the history, contributions and issues of importance to U.S. chicken producers.”

SLIDESHOW: From Babies to Bourbon: 33 Surprising Congressional Caucuses

While just a few high profile factions within the 435-member House get much attention these days — most notably the roughly 40-member Freedom Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — a myriad of other mostly obscure cliques are focused on pet policies and issues important to their constituents back home.

Those issues range from Irish affairs, cement production, cut flowers and shellfish to “financial and economic literacy,” hockey, songwriters and rock ‘n’ roll. There are caucuses for rodeos and toys, submarines and small brewers, motorcycles and sugar — and admirers of Ronald Reagan. There are groups built around regional or national issues — from the Hong Kong Caucus to the Albanian Issues Group to the Friends of Liechtenstein — and ones devoted to almost every major disease or meOR: dical disorder, from blood cancers to malaria to arthritis.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), a founding member of the House Bourbon Caucus, is ever ready to sing the praises of Kentucky’s Jim Beam and Early Times bourbon whiskey and promote the distillery industry. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Dan Benishek (R-MI) of the Invasive Species Caucus are beating the drum to raise awareness of the dangers of the Asian Carp and other alien fish that are invading the nation’s lakes and streams.



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