Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said he doesn’t believe the powerful conservative group’s goal of getting President Donald Trump a win on health care is being properly conveyed to the commander-in-chief.
The comments come after Trump said in a tweet Thursday he will work to defeat HFC members in 2018, if they don’t fall in line with his agenda. The HFC has taken the brunt of the heat for the leadership-backed Obamacare repeal bill getting pulled off the floor last week due to a lack of consensus between conservatives and moderates.
“I don’t know who has his ear but I don’t think he’s hearing that we’re trying to serve him a victory,” Brat told reporters. “But right now this bill is at 17 percent in the polls, and that’s not a winner.”
Brat noted the HFC had given up on a number of their requested changes to the legislation, but felt it didn’t do enough to bring down premiums.
“We’ve negotiated and come way over here and we got to yes 50 times in a row in prior votes to repeal Obamacare,” he said. “So this bill is different. It was rushed through in three weeks, and the president is being told that we’re obstructionist, when we voted 50 times to get to yes. So he’s getting bad counsel from someone.”
HFC member Rep. Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, said he believes Trump’s tweet isn’t helping members achieve their legislative goals.
“As a former chief executive, I always found that carrots are much more effective than sticks in the implementation of legislation,” he told reporters. “The idea of threatening yourself or threatening people as a way of pulling off legislative accomplishment — I’ve always found to be counterproductive.”
Citing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sanford said the group is likely saving the president from political backlash due to the unpopularity of the bill.
“I think that the bill has not gone through the normal process,” he said. “This bill is seen 17 legislative days of activity before we expect a vote last Friday. In contrast the Affordable Care Act saw 186 days of legislative activity while the Medicare Part D that was pushed by a resident Bush saw 166 legislative days.”
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