President Trump effectively declared war Thursday on the House Freedom Caucus, the powerful group of hard-line conservative Republicans who blocked the health-care bill, vowing to “fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections.
In a morning tweet, Trump warned that the Freedom Caucus would “hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.” He grouped its members, all of them Republican, with Democrats in calling for their political defeat — an extraordinary incitement of intraparty combat from a sitting president.
There are about three dozen members of the Freedom Caucus, and most of them were elected or reelected comfortably in solidly Republican districts. With his tweet, Trump seemed to be encouraging primary challenges to each of them in next year’s elections. Asked to elaborate on Trump’s threat, the White House had no immediate comment.
“Nothing to add at this time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “The president’s tweet speaks for itself.”
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters late Thursday morning that he sympathized with Trump.
“I understand the president’s frustration,” said Ryan, who has unable to push the health-care bill through his own chamber. “It’s very understandable that the president is frustrated we’re not going where he wants to go.”
Trump and his White House advisers have been frustrated by the intransigence of Freedom Caucus members, led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). Trump lobbied them intensively to support the GOP plan to replace President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, only to see the bill collapse last Friday after Meadows and some of his allies said they would not vote for it.
You can read the rest at the Washington Post.