Saturday, April 1, 2017
Freedom Caucus Is NOT The Problem, Poor Bill Management Is!
President Trump is taking a stunningly harsh tone with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, calling Thursday for their defeat in the 2018 midterm election if they don't get on board with the Republican agenda.
"The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
It's the third time in less than a week that Trump has attacked the group on Twitter, creating the extraordinary spectacle of a sitting president eviscerating members of his own party and even suggesting they should be removed from office.
Trump, who is popular in Freedom Caucus districts, may have some ability to generate messy primary challenges against caucus members.
But some caucus members say that Trump is going back on his campaign promises to "drain the swamp," implying he is part of the GOP establishment the caucus has fought.
"It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump," tweeted Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. "No shame, Mr. President. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. Establishment."
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of the caucus' founders, that the caucus is "trying to change Washington. The [American Health Care Act] doesn't change D.C. and doesn't do what we told voters we'd do."
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who isn't a member of the caucus, also tweeted to Trump that "it's a swamp, not a hot tub. We both came here to drain it."
The Freedom Caucus played a key role in sinking the Obamacare replacement legislation, saying it didn't go far enough to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this week, the president blamed the caucus for the failure of the Trump-backed American Health Care Act, which was pulled by House leadership Friday because of insufficient support. Trump is clearly still furious and appears to be warning them in unmistakable terms that they'd better stop getting in his way.
"Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!" Trump wrote Sunday morning.
Several top administration officials, including the president, convened last-minute meetings with the conservative lawmakers to try to garner support for the bill. But most Freedom Caucus members refused to buckle, at least in meetings with the president, and House Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill before putting it on the floor because the votes weren't there to pass it.
In addition, several moderate Republicans were also wary of the bill, spooked by estimates that 24 million people could lose insurance over the next decade.
Nevertheless, there have been signs of regret, at least among some Freedom Caucus members. One, Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, quit the caucus, and there are reports others may follow. One report Thursday said Freedom Caucus lawmakers were in "soul searching" mode and that some were questioning whether they should have sent Trump's first major legislative initiative down in flames.
In a tweet Monday, Trump suggested in his next effort to tackle Obamacare he might end-run the Freedom Caucus entirely, saying Democrats would "make a deal" with him on healthcare once Obamacare "folds."
"Do not worry, we are in very good shape!" Trump wrote. Ryan has suggested he is concerned that the Freedom Caucus' intransigence will lead Trump toward Democrats and a less conservative bill.