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When Republicans were fighting to keep the House, Speaker Paul Ryan worked hard to woo the cantankerous Freedom Caucus on the campaign trail. But thanks to Trump, that blossoming friendship could be coming to an end.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy signaled that Republican brass doesn’t plan to kowtow to the conservatives anymore. Ryan’s No. 2 predicted that it’ll finally be the other way around. The group will be forced to fall in line.

During a forum hosted by The Washington Post, McCarthy forecasted a less influential Freedom Caucus, a bolder GOP leadership team, and a more unified GOP conference. Altogether, the California Republican explained, “you’re going to see us sticking together more.” That’d be a significant change from the last two years.

Since their founding, the Freedom Caucus has practiced guerilla politics in the House against their own leadership. A minority of the majority, the group gained influence by threatening to force Ryan to rely on Democrats to pass legislation. First, they toppled Speaker John Boehner, then they threw Ryan’s appropriations process off track by objecting to higher spending levels.

According to party brass the obstruction only hurt the conference. “If you utilize the Freedom Caucus to do that,” McCarthy complained, “It made the House Republicans actually weaker because you had to negotiate with Nancy Pelosi.”

But now the parliamentary tables might have turned. Famous for making deals, Trump won’t worry about reaching across the aisle to compromise with Democrats. For the pragmatic president-elect, bipartisanship is a bonus, not a liability. The threat of losing 35 members of the Freedom Caucus won’t fill Trump’s White House with fear.

Depending on the significance of the legislation, Trump won’t have much trouble getting his agenda through the House. Democrats have already signaled that they’re ready to work with the new administration. They won’t hesitate to jump onboard a trillion-dollar infrastructure package or a protectionist trade deal.

But don’t rule out the Freedom Caucus completely. They could resume their roles as congressional spoilers during heavier legislative lifts like scrapping Obamacare or rolling back Dodd-Frank. GOP leadership will need Freedom Caucus votes to overcome Democrat opposition and push those packages to the president’s desk.

Demanding perfection, it’s possible that the faction could shut down bills that are merely good from a conservative perspective and ground some of Trump’s agenda. Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan has promised that his group is preparing to work as the conscience of the GOP conference.

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But things will work differently around the Hill next year, McCarthy warns. Once Obama leaves the White House, obstruction won’t be a winning strategy anymore. For the first time in eight years, conservatives could find themselves on the receiving end of populist furor if they try to check Trump.

“I’m sure [Freedom Caucus member’s] districts, Donald Trump probably did the best in,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “It’d be hard for them to stand up, if President Trump is asking for this fundamental change, and they’re saying no to it. I think that’s harder.”

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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