Freedom Caucus to Trump: We're 'committed to keeping our promise' on Obamacare

Henrietta Brewer
March 31, 2017

The Freedom Caucus opposed the American Health Care Act that House leadership and Trump pushed last week. But that meeting fell through after some Tuesday Group members argued within their caucus that the HFC wasn't acting in good faith. He also called some of its members out by name.

The discord following the healthcare debacle was not limited to tensions between Trump and the Freedom Caucus.

There are about three dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus, comprising about 15 percent of the 237 House Republicans.

But the Freedom Caucus is a group that prides itself on maintaining ideological purity.

The failure of the health bill in the House may have spared a couple GOP senators a tough vote as the legislation grew increasingly unpopular with the public.

"But I wish he wasn't punching down", Rove told him.

"I don't have anything to say at this point. This morning, I'd rather not say anything".

Make no mistake, the viciousness of Trump's attack on conservative House members is a direct attack on conservatives themselves.

"There's some trust that has to be rebuilt around here", Walker said, though he declined to get into specifics.

"The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast", Trump tweeted.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Donald Trump: "The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda". "And we represent them, so we can do better".

Trump, a NY businessman who touted his skills as a dealmaker in his bid for the White House, has repeatedly criticized Freedom Caucus members, blaming them for the defeat of legislation to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law. Last week, Trump publicly pointed to the other party for refusing to cooperate on the bill, an incredulity-defying comment since no Democrat was eager to replace Obamacare, nor did the White House conduct any real outreach across the aisle. I think it's going to happen.

Ryan repeated that "90%" of his caucus is for the health care measure, but would not commit to a timeline on holding another vote. It's just not clear whether tweaks can get conservatives there. But he's since criticized the Freedom Caucus for its resistance. Meadows, the HFC chairman, has seemed to take the Trump attacks particularly personally. Trent Franks of Glendale, Andy Biggs of Gilbert, Paul Gosar of Prescott and David Schweikert of Fountain Hills - who have little need for concern, said Bill Scheel, a partner at Arizona political consultancy firm Javelina.

Trump's message wasn't subtle - nor was it random. "Nearly everyone succumbs to the D.C. establishment".

And the healthcare legislation performed poorly in opinion polls, so running a candidate against Freedom Caucus members based exclusively on their opposition to the act would be tough, said David Wells, a political science professor at Arizona State University.

As the health care debate reached its final days, and in the wake of its failure, Trump and Ryan have settled into an exceedingly close relationship that has included multiple calls a day between the two men.

The supporter of both Trump and DesJarlais said her husband, who is self-employed, doesn't have insurance, either. "Now, I want this thing gutted". "Everybody has a different threshold, though".

"It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump".

As for Amash, he thinks constituents want Republicans to try "something totally different".

" read one tweet Trump sent Thursday morning".

One member singled out by the president, Raul Labrador, hit back at Trump after his comments. I got thanked at church.

The White House looks hopeless, too. "There are members who belong to no faction that also hated this bill".

"Most people don't take well to being bullied", said Representative Justin Amash, who compared Trump's approach to what a child does when he wants to "get his way". "With all due respect to the folks there, if that particular staffer wants to meet, come meet with the Blue Dogs here", Rep. Henry Cuellar, (D-Texas), a moderate leader of the Blue Dog Caucus, told ABC.

There are potentially big political risks for the Freedom Caucus: Trump has a loyal base of followers and a proven ability to undercut conservative rivals, as he did in the Republican primary a year ago.

Opposition by the Freedom Caucus helped stop the health plan put forward by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan without a vote in the House, where the bill was expected to be killed.

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