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Trump’s new bipartisan stance: Fight everybody.
President Donald Trump on Thursday took a remarkably bipartisan position: He vowed to “fight” both Democrats and Republicans who oppose his agenda.
In a tweet posted Thursday morning, Trump demanded that House Republicans in the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus “get on the team” to pass the GOP’s legislative efforts. The president also declared, “We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
The Freedom Caucus consists of between 30 and 40 members—many lawmakers keep their membership in the Freedom Caucus secret—who were elected primarily to obstruct former President Barack Obama‘s efforts, and they are known as unwavering in the commitment to certain conservative principles. Now that Republicans control both houses of Congress, however, the Freedom Caucus has proven equally obstructionist.
The Freedom Caucus’ opposition to the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), forced House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to pull the bill before a vote could take place—an embarrassing defeat for Trump and any Republican who campaigned on the promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.
As a result, Ryan has softly urged Freedom Caucus members to end their blockade so that Republicans can take advantage of theoretically controlling the entire legislative process.
“I don’t want us to become a factionalized majority,” Ryan said during his news conference on Tuesday. “I want us to become a unified majority, and that means we’re going to sit down and talk things out until we get there.”
The unwillingness of the uncompromising Freedom Caucus to “get on the team” has sparked ire within the White House, where Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, reportedly pushed for a vote on the AHCA if for no reason other than to create a “hit list” of GOP lawmakers who opposed Trump-backed legislation, according to the Daily Beast.
Responding to calls from fellow Republicans to end the insurgency, Freedom Caucus member Rep. David Brat (R-Va.) remained unconvinced.
“I don’t feel compelled,” Brat said of voting down the Republican line, according to NPR. “I feel compelled to represent my constituents.”
The GOP’s in-fighting stands to claim more legislative victims, as Ryan and Trump prepare to tackle tax reform—an issue that is sure to raise lawmaker hackles on both sides of the aisle.
Andrew Couts is the former editor of Layer 8, a section dedicated to the intersection of the Internet and the state—and the gaps in between. Prior to the Daily Dot, Couts served as features editor and features writer for Digital Trends, associate editor of TheWeek.com, and associate editor at Maxim magazine. When he’s not working, Couts can be found hiking with his German shepherds or blasting around on motorcycles.