The failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week has led to a bevy of intra-party fights and spats within the Republican Party this week, including, what everyone had been waiting for, twitter spars between President Donald Trump and Republican congressional members. He specifically targeted members of the Freedom Caucus, including a warning of possibly supporting primary challengers if they did not fall in line. He named some members by name, including Representatives Mark Meadows (NC-11), Jim Jordan (OH-4), and Raul Labrador (ID-1), blaming them for the failure of healthcare reform and possibly tax reform.
Other members of the Freedom Caucus responded in kind through twitter, including Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) who claimed Trump had become a creature of Washington and had done nothing to drain the swamp. Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4) also threw in a jab mimicking Trump's tweet style calling the law "SwampCare" that polled at only 17%.
On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan did not necessarily push back on the president's rhetoric and veiled threats. Ryan said he understood the president’s frustration and that Republicans can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He expressed concern that if Republicans can't unite then the president would work with Democrats to pass legislation. This led to Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) to issue a sharp response via twitter where he lamented that the Speaker would not want a president to work with the other party to solve a problem for the country.
However, some members simply shrugged off the remarks by the president and didn't put much thought into it,possibly because the president is known to go off on twitter when frustrated. The chairman of the Republican Study Committee Representative Mark Walker (NC-6), a more mainstream House conservative group, suggested that not all Freedom Caucus members should be seen as the same, as some are only doing it for attention since some of them like Representative Gary Palmer (AL-6) did back the healthcare legislation.
The infighting continued as a last ditch effort to revive an Affordable Care Act (ACA) replacement faltered this week after talks between conservatives and moderates broke down. Senior members of the centrist Tuesday Group and Freedom Caucus were trying to find a way to get to yes, but a follow-up meeting scheduled for Wednesday was called off as they were too far apart on policy to come to an agreement. Both factions of the party blame House leadership for the failure of healthcare reform, as moderates felt they were not included in the discussion of the initial bill as well as what is seen by many as kowtowing to the Freedom Caucus late in the process. While the Freedom Caucus blames leadership for rushing a bill that was not conservative enough to meet their goals of a full ACA repeal.
It remains to be seen whether the party can come together to pass any type of major healthcare legislation. Right now the prospects do not seem good. Speaker Ryan may have to rely on something his predecessor, Speaker John Boehner, did when he needed to pass major legislation, work with Democrats.
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