President Donald Trump declared war against the House Freedom Caucus for 2018 in a Thursday morning tweet, saying they must be fought along with Democrats in the next election cycle.
The statement marks the first time Mr. Trump — who has expressed displeasure with the conservative Republicans for opposing his recently failed health care proposal — openly opposed their political future in Congress.
Mr. Trump’s tweet highlights a deep divide among the Republican caucus that has only become more strained since his inauguration. The entirely Republican House Freedom Caucus, run by North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows and founded on principles of limited government, has tried to balance support with skepticism of the president.
The tweet comes as Mr. Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan need a relatively united caucus to tackle tax reform, which is the next item on Republicans’ agenda after the failed health care overhaul last week. Ryan has indicated Republicans will still pursue health care reform.
But Mr. Trump’s comment also comes after Ryan expressed concern to “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell Wednesday that Republicans must figure out Obamacare, or Mr. Trump may do that job for them and work with Democrats.
“What I worry about, Norah, is that if we don’t do this, he’ll (Mr. Trump) just go work with Democrats to try and change Obamacare and that’s hardly a conservative thing,” Ryan said.
“If this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the president into working with Dems,” Ryan said.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker took issue Thursday morning with Ryan’s apparent concerns about the president working with members across the aisle.
Mr. Trump marked his candidacy and transition — and now, his presidency — by making news on Twitter, often with controversial statements and to the chagrin of his opponents and some supporters alike.