GOP lawmakers said unity was the message of Tuesday’s conference meeting, as they gathered to start the process of finding a path forward on repealing and replacing Obamacare.
While the party failed to reach a consensus Friday, leading to the measure being pulled off the floor, members said they have not given up on their promise to take action on health care reform. After weeks of meeting and negotiations, concessions to conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) led to the loss of moderate support.
“This is about coming together, the American people want this done, and we want it done,” GOP Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk told reporters. “The game didn’t end on Friday — we just took a halftime. So we’re still in the middle of the game, the game would have been over if the bill would have failed.”
New York Rep. Chris Collins said while he believes the HFC is responsible for the vote being called off, he said leadership discouraged finger-pointing during their meeting.
“Our leaders today are saying let’s not isolate,” he said while leaving the meeting. “They didn’t even use the word Freedom Caucus, let’s not isolate certain members. Let’s figure out a way to come together.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows suggested Congress stay in session until they repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I think that the overwhelming response that I heard in there was real desire to continue to find a way to lower premiums and get to yes,” Meadows said. “I think we are continuing to work with some of out more moderate members in trying to find some solutions.”
Meadows said he spoke with co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group, New Jersey GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur Monday, and while it’s too early to tell what the deal will look like, members across the conference are in agreement Obamacare needs to be repealed.
Leadership appeared encouraged they will be able to come together, with Majority Whip Steve Scalise saying Democrats celebrations were premature.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t put forth an “artificial timeline,” adding they will work together and listen until they reach a consensus.
“This is too important not to get right,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference after the meeting. While the White House has encouraged members to move on to other priorities, leadership said they will continue to work on health care in addition to securing the border, rebuilding the military, and moving forward with their infrastructure plans.
Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne told The Daily Caller News Foundation there was discussion on how shelving health-care reform could impact the rest of their agenda.
Loudermilk said he believes the Obamacare repeal needs to happen before they move on to tax reform.
“No decisions were made it’s just a discussion and everyone that has spoken so far has been we’ve got to get this done and it needs to be one of the first things we do,” he said.
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