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U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a rallying cry against the House Freedom Caucus, a powerful group of staunchly conservative Republican lawmakers who are largely responsible for the collapse of efforts to overhaul the nation’s health care law.
In a Twitter post on Thursday, Trump called on Republicans to defeat caucus members and Democrats.
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
Trump’s tweet seemed to encourage challenges to caucus members in next year’s midterm primary elections. The Freedom Caucus has about 32 members, most of whom won elections in solidly Republican districts by comfortable margins.
The Trump administration has been stymied by the independence of the Freedom Caucus. The president lobbied members intensely to support the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
But the efforts failed last Friday in the face of caucus opposition after Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan did not convince enough lawmakers to vote in their favor.
Trump initially blamed Democrats for the setback, but has since criticized the Freedom Caucus for its resistance.
Trump’s threat comes as Republicans are gearing up for a month of possible intra-party debate on spending priorities.
Congress has to approve a spending measure by April 28 to avoid a federal government shutdown.