During the failed negotiations to ensure the passage of Republican House Leader Paul Ryan’s replacement for the ACA the Freedom Caucus took a role in centre stage that highlighted the presence of this extreme right wing faction of the Republican party.


While President Donald Trump publicly complained of the alleged responsibility of the opposition Democrats for the failure of the bill, the members of the Freedom Caucus were instrumental in defeating a Bill that they considered did not go far enough to remove the hated Affordable Care Act.

While the splits within the Party had been revealed previously and notably during the presidential primaries, the negotiations for Ryan’s bill displayed a level of dissention within the ranks that few outside the GOP would have imagined.

As the American public saw last week the Freedom Caucus’ 37 members have enough numbers and therefore power to effectively block any piece of legislation in the House

Order disobeyed

The Huffington Post gave an excellent example of the attitude of the faction when it reported Axios’ Mike Allen who described a meeting last week between White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and members of the Caucus to gain their support for the Ryan Bill.

On his explicit statement that they had no choice on the matter one of the Caucus members replied, “You know, the last time someone ordered me to do something I was 18 years old.

And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him either.”

This reply could not be more eloquent and revealing in regards to the priority they give to their personal agenda against that of the President or the Party.

Difficult choices

This creates a true paradox for any member of the White House who deals with the faction, beginning with President Donald Trump.

In making any deal with the Freedom Caucus and accepting their conditions, the negotiation would then seriously risk losing the votes of the less conservative members of the GOP, effectively a lose-lose situation for the Oval Office.

As the new week begins the Oval Office will need to seriously look at its agenda and decide what political cost it is willing to pay for each item it will present to the House.

This then becomes more difficult in the Senate where the GOP holds a pencil thin one vote majority and hence too many concessions to the Freedom Caucus in the House will lose consensus in the Senate.

It is also unlikely that the President’s weekend tweets complaining about the behaviour of groups within the GOP, including the Freedom Caucus, will help in the future.


While President Donald Trump last week tried to threaten the GOP members unsuccessfully, the threats are made even more innocuous by an even greater threat to the Republican Congressmen and Senators. Next year will see the midterms and the polls are now beginning to seriously worry of them.

This is a climate that in the short term will favour the Freedom Caucus but for how long will the Oval Office and the Republican Leadership allow this situation to continue?

Who would have thought on November 9th that the Republican majorities in both Houses with a Republican President would be effectively wiped out in less than two months of the new Administration and that those responsible would have been Republicans?

In the meantime the Democrats will be to concentrate on the primaries as the Republicans can continue to implode.