GOP Donors Grow Skittish Over Lack of Legislative Progress

Deep-pocketed Republicans threaten to withhold support over lack of health care, tax reform victories

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 08 Sep 2017 at 2:13 PM

GOP donors have a stern message for President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan: Get the job done, or we might bail.

At a gathering of Koch network donors at a luxury resort nestled in the Rocky Mountains over the weekend, major Texas-based GOP donor Doug Deason announced that he and roughly 10 other Dallas donors have chosen to withhold funds until the White House and Republican-led Congress notch some significant legislative victories.

According to Deason, his “Dallas piggy bank” is closed for business until the GOP produces results on health care and tax reform.

"Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed," Deason said, according to the Associated Press. "You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There's no reason you can't get this done. Get it done and we'll open it back up."

Deason noted that two prominent House Freedom Caucus members — chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and former chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — recently approached him about the possibility of hosting a fundraiser with them. The Dallas donor said he declined.

"I said, 'No, I'm not going to because we're closing the checkbook until you get some things done,'" Deason said, adding that he even pressured two dozen other Texas-based donors to refuse to partner with them on the fundraiser.

Deason's warning came as the Senate is in the throes of negotiating a health care reform bill, unveiled last week by GOP caucus leaders.

McConnell is pushing for a vote on the legislation in the Senate this week, but many of his caucus members remain doubtful he can muster the 50 votes necessary to reach a tie that can be broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

But Deason noted that he refused to meet with McConnell when invited, saying he'd like to see McConnell "grow a pair" and pass some bills first.

"Mr. Deason is dead right to close his piggy bank to Congress," Eddie Zipperer, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, told LifeZette. "If I were a donor, I wouldn't give a dime to those in Congress who made their names by obstructing President Obama, and are now furthering their obstructionist brand against President Trump at the expense of working-class Americans who are the ones shouldering the Obamacare burden."

A donor who wished to remain anonymous told BuzzFeed, "Why reward bad behavior?"

Many GOP donors shared these concerns and have expressed their frustration that Republican senators can't come together even on something they collectively promised for so long.

"Ideologically entrenched senators like Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — I call them the moth caucus because they love fluttering around any spotlight they can find — are simply grandstanding in their opposition to the Senate health care bill," Zipperer said. "They want Obamacare totally repealed. That's great! Me, too! So do most conservatives."

"The Senate's partial repeal is well-calibrated to get rid of the most damaging aspects of Obamacare without losing moderate Senators. The legislative branch is about compromising," Zipperer added. "Cruz and Paul should respect the mandate of the American voters who put President Trump in the White House."

Zipperer also expressed his concern that "Americans are going to wind up stuck with Obamacare because a partial repeal wasn't good enough for Cruz, Paul, and their presidential ambitions, and that is unacceptable."

"If the working class is made to continue shouldering this burden because the partial repeal wasn't ideologically pure enough for Cruz and Paul, that will hardly pave their way to the White House like they think it will," Zipperer concluded.

Some GOP politicians have warned of serious consequences of not delivering on the party's most explicit promise.

Rep. Dave Brat, (R-Va.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said during a recent interview, "If we don't get health care, none of us are coming back," the AP reported.

"We said for seven years you're gonna repeal Obamacare. It's nowhere near repealed," Brat warned.

And many donors appeared to be thinking along similar lines.

"If they don't make good on these promises … there are going to be consequences, and quite frankly there should be," said Sean Lansing, COO for the Koch network's Americans For Prosperity (AFP), the AP reported. (go to page 2 to continue reading)

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