The Transom, Ben Domenech, May 5, 2017

After the passage of the AHCA yesterday, liberals foresee thousands—or even millions—dying in the streets.  “From the halls of Congress, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) tweeted that after Thursday’s vote, the House GOP “will have the death of thousands of [sic] your conscience forever.” Murphy subsequently referred to the bill as a “deliberate decision to hurt millions.” The day before the vote, Murphy also insisted that “thousands will die if this bill becomes law.” Similar reactions came from the likes of former Hillary Clinton staffer Matt Ortega, who said that House Republicans “condemn many to death,” and Dar’shun Kendrick, a Democratic Georgia State representative, who brought up Hillary Clinton’s emails by comparison. The left-wing media also foresaw the deaths of Americans resulting from the vote. “House Republicans vote to sentence millions of Americans to death” was the headline from Daily Kos, a liberal political site.”

So that’s the tenor of the response Republicans should expect moving forward. The question is, what should conservatives learn from this experience? My piece today looks at that question.  “Yesterday afternoon, Donald Trump finally notched two significant legislative successes. It was not his doing: the Freedom Caucus and moderates convinced by sending more money to pre-existing conditions brought the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through the House and sent the Obamacare revision to the Senate. In the Senate, the budget omnibus bill Trump favors was pushed through. It will spend more than $1 trillion and keep the government running until September. It passed with a vote of 79-18, and all 18 votes against were Republicans.

“Breaking down what happened with these two Trump legislative successes illustrates what we should expect from the coming years. First, a significant portion of the House and Senate Republicans are pragmatic partisans—roughly 170 in the House and 25 in the Senate. They will go along largely with whatever the White House wants, even if they resent it.

“Then there is a handful of members in the moderate position in both chambers who can block very narrow votes, but otherwise lack the power to dramatically alter legislation. Then there is a strong core of conservatives who are largely skeptical of Trump’s White House, but want to get to yes by pushing legislation to the Right. They are able to do so on matters where the divide on votes is harshly partisan, such as on the AHCA. But they are unable to do so when Democrats side with the partisan pragmatists, who feel confident that they won’t suffer for voting for something Chuck Schumer and Donald Trump both like.

“While conservatives are content with making the AHCA more acceptable to their principles, on the omnibus they were stuck fuming over spending concessions to Democrats. But the truth here is that Trump, running into a potential shutdown for the first time, showed himself to be willing to capitulate on several fronts.

“Trump could mitigate this in the future by escalating his priorities, laying out a series of funding issues that, if not to his liking, will receive an automatic veto. Schumer will likely rise to the bait, and Trump may have to veto a future deal for that reason. He should be prepared to do so, and as a lead-up to the midterms, when geography will put Democrats on the defense in the Senate. It will take conservatives close to the White House to convince the president of such a strategy.

“But on the health care front, conservatives should feel more enthused. They have successfully sent a message to the White House and to House leadership about what can happen when they listen to internal resistance instead of just trying to roll them.”