GOP's impatience with Freedom Caucus boils over

GOP's impatience with Freedom Caucus boils over
© Moriah Ratner

House Republicans’ long-simmering impatience with colleagues in the conservative Freedom Caucus are spilling out into the open after the failure to pass legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

On Sunday, President Trump tweeted, “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), who had supporter the GOP's healthcare bill, on Monday became the latest GOP lawmaker to pile onto the caucus.

Abraham quoted Trump’s tweet and added: “.@POTUS is absolutely right. The next time one of them talks about how much they want to stop abortions, know that their words are hollow.”

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The American Health Care Act (AHCA) would have, among other provisions, created tax credits to help people buy insurance and cut federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

A Freedom Caucus spokeswoman defended the group on Monday, noting that centrists were also integral to bringing down the legislation. 

“The HFC roots for Trump's success. The group could not in good conscience send him into '20 reelection w/back-to-back yrs of higher premiums,” spokeswoman Alyssa Farah wrote.

“Politically, the GOP should thank the cons & mods who helped stop this bill 4 not sending them in midterms w/ higher premiums under AHCA.”

That hasn’t stopped GOP leadership allies from pinning the blame on the Freedom Caucus for the party’s failure to uphold a seven-year campaign pledge. 

“[Freedom Caucus Chairman] Mark Meadows betrayed Trump and America and supported Pelosi and Dems to protect Obamacare,” Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) said in a tweet over the weekend, linking to a House Democrat mocking the GOP.

Rep. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeSenate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R-Texas) resigned from the Freedom Caucus over the weekend after planning to support the healthcare bill. He suggested the caucus wasn’t negotiating in good faith and would have ultimately refused to vote for the bill no matter what compromises emerged. 

"There's some members of the Freedom Caucus, they'd vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote," Poe said in an interview with CNN’s “New Day” on Monday.

"I think it's time that the Freedom Caucus work together with other members of the Republican Party, have input, which we did with the Speaker, the president of the United States, and then at the end of the day, compromise to get something done."

The next opportunity for Republicans to try to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood could come when Congress takes up a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of April. 

But White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday wouldn't commit to whether the Trump administration would try to force the issue in the must-pass spending bill, saying the now-tanked healthcare bill was considered an opportunity to target Planned Parenthood.

Such a move would risk the odds of a government shutdown, given how it would alienate Democrats who may be necessary for Trump and GOP leaders to pass the spending bill.

“I don’t want to get ahead of our legislative strategy,” Spicer said at a White House press briefing. “We’ll look at other opportunities, but this was definitely one that was a way to make that happen.”