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U.S. Rep. Ted Poe resigns from Freedom Caucus

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe resigned his membership from the Freedom Caucus, a hardline conservative group that helped derail the Obamacare overhaul bill.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 14, 2016.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican from Humble, announced Sunday afternoon he is resigning from the hardline Republican group that helped sink GOP attempts to repeal former President Obama's 2010 health care law. 

"I have resigned from the House Freedom Caucus. In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions  to move this country forward," Poe said in a statement. "Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas."

"It is time to lead," he added.

Poe is a Houston-area former judge who built much of his reputation on fighting for victims' rights, and he spent much of the last year battling cancer. 

The Freedom Caucus is made up of several dozen Republican members of Congress who exert their influence as a voting bloc with an aim to push legislation in a more conservative direction. Frequently, they have forced their leadership to negotiate with Democrats in order to win a majority vote on the House floor. 

They also successfully undermined former Speaker John Boehner and essentially forced his resignation from Congress. 

But the events of the last week have led to much more overt Republican criticism of the Freedom Caucus, which pushed for conservative changes to the GOP health care overhaul. A handful of members, like Poe, were appeased after lobbying from President Trump, and backed the bill. 

But most Freedom Caucus members held out. At the same time, their requested changes alienated more moderate Republicans and rendedered the bill unpassable. 

The Freedom Caucus does not publicize members, but several Texans and their offices have confirmed their membership to the Tribune: U.S. Reps. Joe Barton of Ennis, Louie Gohmert of Tyler and Randy Weber of Friendswood.

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