Trump, Ryan go public with fight against conservative Freedom Caucus

President Trump took to Twitter on Friday to express his frustration with the House Freedom Caucus, individually calling some members out by name. Trump had counted on the right-wing coalition to support the GOP’s American Health Care Act, which they declined to do on March 24.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (D-Wis.) was unable to secure the votes needed to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, and ended up pulling the bill at the eleventh hour. The defeat was embarrassing for Trump, who has embraced the label of “deal maker.”

Speaker Ryan is also frustrated with the staunchly conservative Caucus for derailing their own party’s plans to replace Obamacare. The House voted numerous times under former President Obama to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one of the previous administration’s landmark achievements.

Legislation repealing Obamacare was mostly symbolic at the time, but Republicans now control both the White House and Congress, and have a chance to repeal the controversial law. However, party members seem unable to find middle ground on the issue of healthcare.

“I understand the president’s frustration. About 90 percent of our conference is for this bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and about 10 percent are not,” said Ryan. “And that’s not enough to pass a bill.”

Although Ryan is obviously unhappy with his party’s most conservative members, Trump took his frustration a step further by threatening to help other Republican candidates unseat Freedom Caucus members in 2018 midterm elections.

Although bickering among party members is common, it is unusual for a president to directly threaten a sitting congressperson’s seat.

Caucus member, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), seemed unconcerned after hearing of Trump’s threat.

“If a primary challenger would serve the country better than me, then I’m certainly willing to entertain that,” Franks said. “If somebody can get to the right of me in the primary, God bless him.”

Ryan choose to go a different route and instead told members of the Caucus that if they were unwillingly to work with their own party, then he would start attempting to make inroads with House Democrats in order to write and pass legislation.

How willing Democrats are to work across the aisle is still up in the air.

 

[Washington Post] [CNN] [Roll Call] [Photo courtesy AP via Breitbart]