The most telling feature of Melissa Mackenzie’s post about the decision of House Speaker Ryan and President Trump to reopen negotiations with the “100-Percent-Of-Nothing” caucus is the New York Times report to which she refers. The Times claims, “House Republican leaders and the White House, under extreme pressure from conservative activists, have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” This is Orwellian BS.
It isn’t the GOP leadership or Trump that have been “under extreme pressure.” It is, rather, the capricious members of the House Freedom Caucus who have been feeling the heat. The President has been hammering them on Twitter with jabs like this : “The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” If you don’t believe this kind of pressure is having an effect, I invite you to watch HFC ringleader Mark Meadows squirm when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pressed him on Sunday morning about a similar Trump tweet.
And the President is by no means the only Republican who has condemned Meadows and the HFC. Rep. Ted Poe resigned from the caucus and told CNN, “There’s some members of the Freedom Caucus, they’d vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote.” Other disgruntled members of the HFC, like Rep. Brian Babin, are also thinking about resigning: “I worked very hard to get President Trump elected. And listen, we have a president that will sign our legislation now. So we need to support that agenda.”
Poe and Babin are not “moderate” Republicans. They are conservatives in good standing. Members of another conservative caucus, the Republican Study Committee, are also grumbling about the HFC. The Washington Examiner reports that RSC member Rep. Barry Loudermilk implied that the RSC dealt with the President more honestly in their negotiations with the President, “We lived up to our word.”
Republican Rep. Austin Scott was less diplomatic than Loudermilk when he tweeted, “Mark Meadows betrayed Trump and America and supported Pelosi and Dems to protect Obamacare.” Another Republican, Rep. Doug Collins was incensed that the HFC let Planned Parenthood off the hook: “I am unable to understand how many of my colleagues allowed political myopia to prevent them from supporting the opportunity to defund America’s largest abortion peddler.”
The list goes on and on, but the point is this: If the House Freedom Caucus adheres to any core set of actual principles, the President, many of their House colleagues, and even some if the group’s own members are unable to detect them. The HFC is, as Andrew Malcolm phrased it, “a rump pack of Republicans themselves who’ve shown a keen interest in policy-strutting but none in the actual teamwork of governing.”
Mark Meadows and his pompous accomplices have been hearing this from all sides, and that is why they are back at the table. It has nothing to do with “pressure” on the President or the GOP leadership. The members of the HFC, like Caesar’s assassins, expected to be greeted as heroes for their perfidy. Now that they have been disabused of this hubristic fantasy, they are suddenly willing to talk.