Chief of Staff to the Vice President Nick Ayers channeled former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon during a Tuesday morning Republican National Committee event with wealthy donors as he called for a “purge” of GOP leaders who are working against President Donald Trump’s agenda, according to Politico.
Ayers petitioned the donors at the meeting in Washington, D.C. to stop donating and form a coalition of donors to essentially issue an ultimatum to Republican leadership: get President Donald Trump’s agenda through by December 31 or “we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”
The comments come just one week after grassroots-backed Judge Roy Moore beat out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s handpicked candidate Luther Strange for the U.S. Senate seat vacated earlier this year by now U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Millions upon millions of dollars flooded into the Alabama race for Strange, but could not overcome Moore, who won the runoff election with only $1-2 million in financial support.
The Politico piece went on with more of Ayers’ Tuesday morning statements:
The approach has echoes of right-wing firebrand and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s preferred methods. Bannon has repeatedly railed against congressional leaders and accused them of being the main stumbling block to Trump’s agenda. And he has taken his show on the road, speaking out against incumbent Republicans.
Ayers told the donor group on Tuesday, regarding support for Trump, “Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him.”
Ayers listed long-made Republican promises to repeal Obamacare and pass tax cuts as the items Congress needs to pass by years’ end or face serious consequences. He said that if these Trump Administration legislative priorities are passed, then Republicans can hold a “governing majority for a very long time.”
Despite volumes of meetings between White House and Republican congressional leadership and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, Congress has yet to pass the repeal of Obamacare that Republicans have promised for almost ten years. The American Health Care Act, a bill designed to roll back portions of Obamacare, did manage to pass in the House of Representatives, but did so only after many meetings with and personal calls from President Trump to legislators. Vice President Pence, formerly a member of Congress himself, was a very regular presence on Capitol Hill, meeting with legislators to get a bill passed in the House.
Voting on the AHCA was repeatedly delayed as House Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership was called into question. During a White House event immediately following House passage of the AHCA, Speaker Ryan noted the massive White House involvement in getting the legislation passed. At the same event Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows credited the President, who “wouldn’t give up.”
An attempt to pass a separate version of Obamacare repeal in the Senate ultimately failed with the “no” votes of Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and John McCain. McCain huddled with Democrats and made his enthusiastic thumbs down no vote on a “skinny repeal” bill that would have allowed the House and Senate to go to conference on repealing Obamacare. McCain has long promised Arizona constituents that he would vote to repeal Obamacare. In September a last-ditch effort in the Senate to make changes to Obamacare, under reconciliation with the Graham-Cassidy bill, failed to even go to a vote, as it lacked the votes needed to pass.
Congress has also yet to produce a bill on major tax reform for public view. Trump Administration officials have repeatedly promised tax reform before the end of 2017. The Trump Administration and Republican congressional leadership have released framework details for tax reform, and promises continue from Republican congressional leadership that a bill will pass by years’ end.
“We’re on track to get shellacked next year,” Ayers said on Tuesday, regarding the 2018 elections. He was clear to put the responsibility for that on congressional Republican leadership’s inability to pass major legislation and not on President Trump and Vice President Pence.
Bannon, who has returned as executive chairman of Breitbart News, backed Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, as did high profile Republicans including former Alaska Governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, former Trump Administration deputy assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka, and current Trump Administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, to name a few. President Trump backed Moore’s opponent Strange, but later, at a rally for McConnell-backed Strange, stated that he may have made a mistake and pledged to campaign “like hell” for Moore in the general election if Moore won. After Moore won, Trump congratulated him and re-affirmed his pledge to campaign for Moore against the Democrat in the general election.
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