Dec 15, 2017 - Health Care

Recess makes Freedom Caucus winners on Trumpcare

David Zalubowski / AP

Moderate Republican House members have had a much tougher recess than conservatives when it comes to Trumpcare. Members from purple districts have had to weather angry liberals and disappointed conservatives, while conservatives have largely emerged as heroes.

I went to the town halls of Reps. Mike Coffman, a Colorado moderate who supported the House health care bill, and Ron DeSantis, a Florida member of the Freedom Caucus who opposed it.

  • Coffman was attacked by liberals angry about his support of Trumpcare, while some Republican constituents expressed disappointment with him for supporting a bill they thought would only make Obamacare's problems worse.
  • Meanwhile, DeSantis received much less blowback (although his town hall was folded into a speaker series at a local college) and is regarded by some of his constituents as having saved them from a bad health care bill.

"I think, quite frankly, most voters in this district were happy with how I explained the problems with the bill," DeSantis told me after his event ended. "Most of the Republicans who were here didn't think it was a good bill, and obviously the Democrats don't want to do anything that deals with Obamacare in that way."

Why this matters: With different factions of the GOP pointing fingers at one another, the blame game is only effective if members' constituents are angry with their representative. Right now, it seems like the Freedom Caucus is actually being celebrated for blocking Trumpcare, which was extremely unpopular nationally.

What to watch: Town halls this recess showed that moderates have the most to lose, and they may have made nervous members even more apprehensive of voting for Trumpcare — especially if it moves further to the right. Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucus has likely been emboldened in challenging GOP leadership.

"Are Republican voters going to blame [opponents of the bill] because the bill failed, because they were raising objections, or are they going to blame the people who created the bill?" DeSantis asked. "My sense is they're more frustrated with how the bill was created and what it didn't do."

What's next

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Sports

What's next: Trump's broader travel ban

A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

President Trump is expected to announce an expanded travel ban this week, which would restrict immigration from seven additional countries — Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania, per multiple reports.

  • The announcement would come on the third anniversary of Trump's original travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority nations, per Axios' Stef Kight.