The conservative billionaire Koch Brothers are ready to go to war with Paul Ryan and Donald Trump over the Republican health care bill working its way through Congress.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, two big Koch-backed conservative grassroots groups, are joining together and creating a seven-figure fund to support any conservative member of Congress who votes against the American Health Care Act — the Republican's replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act.
The two grassroots groups oppose the GOP bill on the grounds that it does not go far enough to undo the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, Trump met with members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of the House's most conservative members, in order to persuade them to vote for the bill. The day before Trump met with a larger group of Republicans and reportedly told them they might lose their seats in 2018 if they didn't vote for the bill.
According to Mic's whip count today, there are 25 House Republicans who plan to vote against the bill and three more who are leaning toward voting against it. Republicans can only afford to lose 21 votes to pass the measure.
The announcement of the Koch-backed fund will likely provide some relief to conservative house members who plan on opposing the bill. It could also send a message to other conservatives that there could be costs for supporting the bill.
"In seven years, we have never wavered in our commitment to a full repeal of this disastrous law," Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips said in a statement to Politico. "We want to make certain that lawmakers understand the policy consequences of voting for a law that keeps Obamacare intact. We have a history of following up and holding politicians accountable, but we will also be there to support and thank the champions who stand strong and keep their promise."
During the presidential election, the Kochs made no secret of their distaste for Trump and his heterodox brand of conservatism. They resisted calls from other major GOP donors to invest in his presidential election and spent money only on down-ticket races during 2016. Now it appears their opposition could continue into his presidency.