Freedom Caucus Still Not Sold On Obamacare Bill After Mulvaney Meeting

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

Members of the House Freedom Caucus are standing by their position that changes need to be made to the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal and replacement plan.

Following a meeting with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, himself a former HFC member during his time in Congress, Caucus members said they would not vote for the plan in its current form. And yet, members are hopeful the administration will be open to changes, despite President Donald Trump’s endorsement of the legislation.

“No new position tonight. Our position is the same,” HFC Chairman Mark Meadows said after the meeting. “We believe we need to do a clean repeal bill.”

Conservatives have been particularly critical of language pertaining to tax credits, which they feel virtually create a new entitlement program. Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price met with a number of conservative members Tuesday afternoon to discuss their concerns. Members said they were encouraged by the discussion.

“When the administration has spoken to our members in private meetings, the discussions have been more about finding ways to move forward together and not about take it or leave it,” Rep. Justin Amash told CNN. While there is a consensus throughout the party the ACA needs to be repealed and replaced, a divide remains about how to best move forward.

Rep. David Schweikert, the only HFC member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said that figuring out how to cover preexisting conditions, which all Republicans agree should remain in place, and figuring out how to pay for the legislation, are the biggest issues they need to tackle.

“I’m in a unique position, sometimes it’s gut-wrenching at times with my brothers on sort of the reform, conservative side who are worried about lots of things, then I have my committee where we sort of sit down and keep doing the math saying if you do certain things this is your only path,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation ahead of the meeting, adding he is trying to find a way to bridge the gap.

Critics of the legislation argue Republican leadership does not have the votes for the bill to pass, which will lead to changes in the measure, “giving conservatives a seat at the table.” Former HFC Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are set to reintroduce the legislation to repeal the Affordable Acre Act that former President Barack Obama vetoed in 2015.

Leadership remains hopeful they will be able to get the 2018 votes needed for it to get through the House.”I have no doubt we’ll pass this because we are going to keep our promises,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters after the bill’s introduction.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who met with the president Tuesday, said they have been working with members in all corners of the party to craft a bill Republicans can all get behind. “There have been a lot of changes along the way and frankly almost all of our members have been involved in getting the bill to this point and making real improvements along the way,” he told TheDCNF Tuesday.

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