Trump Tried A Power Move To Intimidate House Conservatives. It Didn’t Work

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The standoff between House conservatives and leadership over language in the Obamacare repeal vote continues with just hours to go before the vote is expected to hit the floor.

Following weeks of negotiations, the administration has attempted to strong-arm members of the House Freedom Caucus into getting behind the bill, telling members if the bill dies on the floor, Obamacare will remain in place.

The White House sent Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former House Freedom Caucus (HFC) member, to deliver President Donald Trump’s ultimatum to the House Republican conference Thursday night. According to a GOP source familiar with the meeting, Mulvaney and House Speaker Paul Ryan asked members to go around the room and individually announce where they stood on the bill — a request HFC Chairman Mark Meadows shot down. The source said Meadows told them he speaks for the group and they remain a no.

Meadows declined to comment, saying he doesn’t discuss what happens in private meetings. The North Carolina Republican has repeatedly said they are trying to get to a yes, but he can’t bring himself to vote for a measure he doesn’t believe will bring down premiums. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, which only takes an official position when 80 percent of its members agree on an issue, have long said members are encouraged to do what they feel is best for their districts.

The administration and leadership have been pulling out all the stops in an attempt to gain support, trying to accommodate conservatives’ request to add language eliminating essential health benefits implemented under the Affordable Care Act. But the concessions in the manager’s amendment were not conservative enough to sway HFC critics and led to the loss of support from a number of moderates.

Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to further rail against the powerful conservative group, saying they are allowing Planned Parenthood to continue receiving federal funding if they vote no despite their pro-life stance.

The president singled Meadows out at a conference meeting Tuesday, where he reportedly joked he was “coming for him.”

While some speculate Trump could potentially support primaries against members that derail his agenda, Meadows said he is more concerned with voting for the policies he feels best serve his constituents.

Supporters of the legislation argue lawmakers have a binary choice, they can vote for the measure or fail to deliver on one of their top campaign promises.

Despite the lack of votes, the administration is standing by their call for Congress to roll the dice. The vote is expected to hit the floor around 4 p.m.

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