When it became clear that Donald Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee, the sense of urgency for an all Republican Congress remained the same. Sure, Trump ran under the GOP banner but he showed very few signs of any conservative principles (or a coherent agenda for that matter). And since Trump's signature issue was a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico, I often said he would likely acquiesce to some left wing policies put forth by a Dem majority in Congress if it meant he could check off his top agenda item.
Trump's openness to striking deals with Dems became even more apparent upon the GOP House failing to cobble together a repeal measure of Obamacare.
The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds - not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017
A couple of days later, President Trump took it a step further when he issued a threat to certain members of the GOP House caucus.
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
This whole healthcare saga has likely been a rude awakening to Trump. While he had been able to strong-arm deals during his business career, the members of the House Freedom Caucus (for better or worse) will absolutely not be deterred by the president's bluster.
"The Freedom Caucus is trying to change Washington. The [AHCA] doesn't change DC & doesn't do what we told voter's we'd do." -@Jim_Jordan— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) March 30, 2017
It didn't take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump. No shame, Mr. President. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. Establishment. https://t.co/9bDo8yzH7I— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 30, 2017
The fact of the matter is most (if not all) of the HFC members will easily be reelected in 2018, despite any efforts President Trump may put forth (I have a hunch he'll merely continue to lob rhetorical bombs via Twitter). Also, most of the aforementioned members have the ability that many in the GOP "establishment" lack. That is they are able to see past the next election cycle. The Freedom Caucus members pretty much enter every election year with the mindset that if voters are not happy with the efforts they put forth to make real, substantive reforms in Washington, then the HFC members would prefer not to be there anyways.
I haven't always been a big fan of the House Freedom Caucus's occasional unwillingness for incrementalism, but there's no denying that they are a well-funded and formidable force in Congress. To underestimate or dismiss them in the future is to do so at one's own peril.