Want to make America great again?
Then have a stronger Congress in 2017.
That’s the prescription from Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, who helped create the conservative House Freedom Caucus last year.
If you truly want to make America great again, you need a strong legislative branch, and I’m actually really excited about that.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
While many Republicans distanced themselves from President-elect Donald Trump in the final month of the presidential campaign, Labrador went to Arizona, Florida and Utah to campaign for the Trump ticket.
But now he says that he and other members of the Freedom Caucus are ready to resist the new president when necessary, providing a “check on the presidency.”
“If you truly want to make America great again, you need a strong legislative branch, and I’m actually really excited about that,” said Labrador, speaking to reporters at the group’s monthly “Conversations With Conservatives” forum on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The Freedom Caucus will face a big test when Trump formally introduces his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion on improvements to the nation’s infrastructure.
While many Republicans worry about the cost, many Democrats like the idea.
$1 trillionThe estimated cost of President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure
“We are not going to vote for anything that increases the national debt,” Labrador said. “I believe in an infrastructure bill, but it has to be paid for. And if Trump doesn’t find a way to pay for it, then at least the majority of us – if not all of us – are going to vote against it. … Now the question is: Will the rest of the Republicans join with Democrats to actually increase the debt? And that would be an ironic twist to this whole story.”
Labrador, 48, who was elected to a fourth term last week, said Congress should move ahead with a full repeal of Obamacare in January, even if Trump wants to save parts of the national healthcare plan.
“It would be a mistake for us to start our new Congress by going back on our promise that we’re going to repeal Obamacare,” he said.
It would be a mistake for us to start our new Congress by going back on our promise that we’re going to repeal Obamacare.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho
Labrador said Trump’s independence will force Congress to abandon its usual ways, where Democrats put on their “blue jerseys” and Republicans put on their “red jerseys” and conduct their fights solely on party lines.
“I’m hoping that because of Trump’s independence from the party – which is a healthy thing – that we will put on the legislative jersey, that we will put on the congressional jersey, and realize that on some things we’re going to agree with the president but on other things we’re going to have to be the check on the presidency,” Labrador said.