Politics

Moderate GOP Rep: I Have No Interest In Meeting With House Freedom Caucus

REUTERS/Mark Makela

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

Frustrations between the different factions of the Republican party are becoming more evident as lawmakers continue to struggle to come to a consensus on health care reform.

While leadership said they are encouraging party unity, a number of members of the moderate Tuesday Group are pointing fingers at the House Freedom Caucus for the derailment of the leadership-backed Obamacare repeal bill Friday.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said he’s been having discussions with Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Tom MacArthur, and is open to a meeting between the two groups. But Tuesday Group member Rep, Chris Collins of New York said Thursday it’s not in the cards.

“I am not speaking for the White House; I’m not speaking for the Speaker; but I will speak for the Tuesday Group,” Collins told reporters. “The Tuesday Group will never meet with the Freedom Caucus, with a capital N-E-V-E-R. It is not our role.”

According to Collins, members have been instructed to ignore calls coming in from conservatives.

“It was just reiterated that next time one of those calls comes in [from the HFC], just hang up,” he continued.

Collins comments come after President Donald Trump tweeted he would support primary challenges of Freedom Caucus members in 2018 if they don’t get on board with his agenda.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, while not naming any individual groups, said he understands the president’s frustrations.

“I share frustration. About 90 percent of our conference is for this bill to repeal and replace Obamacare and about 10 percent are not. And that’s not enough to pass a bill,” he said at his weekly press conference.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus said they have been trying to get to a yes, but feel the concessions made by leadership did not help bring premiums down — calling for repealing Title I regulations. Conservatives said they are attempting to make negotiations in good faith, but moderates remain skeptical.

“It is not the role of ad-hoc members to get together and suggest at all that we represent 237 members of the conference or the committees of jurisdiction,” Collins said, adding he believes the “only one place the finger-pointing should go and that is at the Freedom Caucus.”

Members of the conservative and powerful group said the finger-pointing is unwarranted, noting they weren’t the only members of the conference who didn’t support the measure.

“The only people being talked about right now are Freedom Caucus, but if you look at the whip count there’s about 40 and with about half conservatives,” South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford told reporters. “In briefly speaking to Jim Jordan or Mark Meadows, they’ve expressed a real interest in terms of trying to get to yes.”

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