Conservative Caucus Looks To Strong-Arm Leadership Into Last-Second Obamacare Repeal Changes

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Members of the House Freedom Caucus said the leadership-backed Obamacare repeal legislation, which is slated to go to vote Thursday, is far from where it needs to be to gain their support and lacks the votes to pass the lower chamber.

The powerful conservative group was joined by GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah — who have also voiced opposition to the bill — at their caucus meeting Monday, where they discussed their stance on health-care reform.

Changes to the legislation are expected to be rolled out in the form of a manager’s amendment before midnight. But according to HFC Chairman Mark Meadows, who had not seen the amendment as of 9:30 p.m.,  the language he was told it contained is not enough to sway HFC members.

“Based on what I’ve been told is in the manager’s amendment and what I shared with the members tonight, I don’t think that it moves anybody or makes a compelling case to move anybody from where their previous position were,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The group has repeatedly expressed concerns about the legislation, railing against its language on tax credits, the 30 percent increase in premiums for those who drop coverage and its timeline on rolling back Medicaid expansion. While leadership said adjustments will continue to be made as the Rules Committee has not yet marked up the bill, Meadows said the HFC has been told the amendments they plan to put forward likely won’t be taken seriously by the bill’s proponents.

“Well that’s not to say that’s not to say that there is obviously a whole lot of discussions that are going on and you know if meaningful changes happen — we’ve been trying to negotiate in good faith,” he continued. “We’ve been led to believe that there are no more amendments that will be allowed that substantially change things, and so if that’s the case I think it makes it very difficult if not impossible to get to 216 tomorrow.”

Meadows said the legislation still needs substantial changes, as votes on individual amendments the group puts forward have the potential to be shot down on the floor.

“I mean you know we know how that works — this is not everybody’s first rodeo. You make them in order and then vote them down on the floor,” he said. “It needs to change the bill. I mean really this is not about a bill and about a win or a loss here on Capitol Hill — it’s about a win or a loss back home on Main Street.”

President Donald Trump is expected to make an appearance at the House GOP conference meeting Tuesday in an attempt to sway members to vote for the legislation.

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash said he’s prepared to stand by his position on the legislation if changes aren’t made, even if he faces immense pressure from the president.

“I’ve been yelled at before,” he told reporters, adding the group has made suggestions to leadership throughout the process. “If they don’t want to accept those suggestions than that’s on them.”

Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, is hopeful their concerns will be addressed, noting leadership has continued to ask what it will take to get them to yes. He said he’s optimistic they will reach a consensus before the bill comes to the floor.

“I think that cooler heads will prevail and we will find a way to get to yes with some reasonable amendments that are negotiated in good faith negotiations,” he sad.

Despite the divide, leadership remains optimistic a consensus will be reached on the measure. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California told The Daily Caller News Foundation there are no plans to push back Thursday’s vote ahead of the HFC meeting.

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