Posted: 10:56 am Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
Still smarting from last week’s meltdown on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, House Republicans used a closed door “family meeting” in the U.S. Capitol to both clear the air, and see if there was a way to push forward again on a plan to make major changes to Obamacare.
“We had a very constructive meeting with our members,” said Speaker Paul Ryan about the focus on a GOP measure on health care reform. “I’m not going to put a timeline on it.”
“I think there’s a good healthy discussion going on in there,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), one Republican who has been publicly critical of the more conservative group of lawmakers known as the Freedom Caucus.
“We need to not quit until the moment that we find the right solutions,” said Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL).
Various GOP lawmakers described the meeting as a “soul searching” moment; one said it was a “family feud of sorts.”
“It was really about trying the best we can to come together,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a prime ally of President Donald Trump in the House.
While Collins said the GOP should avoid recriminations, he still managed to throw some verbal elbows at the Freedom Caucus, at one point labeling them as a group of “perfectionists on our far right.”
As for the Freedom Caucus, the leader of that group again said they are willing to reach a deal on health care, as Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) urged lawmakers to postpone a scheduled Easter break if needed to forge a deal.
Freedom Caucus Chair Meadows say he doesn't think members should go home for recess until they pass healthcare bill, wants to get to "yes"
— Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) March 28, 2017
Others in the Freedom Caucus though were ready to support only one thing first, and that is repeal of the Obama health law – and then move on to figure out what’s next.
“We will find out who is truly for repealing Obamacare, and who is not,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who says he will use a process known as a “discharge petition” to try to force action on his bill to just repeal the Obama health law.
In the end, while there was a lot of positive talk about moving forward, there was no concrete sign that somehow differences had been bridged among more moderate and conservative lawmakers in the GOP on health care.
GOP SUMMARY: Republicans cannot agree on whether to agree to disagree.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) March 28, 2017
After the meeting, Speaker Paul Ryan echoed the assessments of his rank and file.
“This discussion was an honest and very constructive step forward,” he told reporters.
But there was no immediate breakthrough on an overhaul of the Obama health law.
Meanwhile, Democrats tried to inject their voice – and ideas – into the health care debate, as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asked her colleagues to submit ideas on how to improve the Affordable Care Act.
The suggestion by Pelosi came a day after the White House said the President might be willing to work with Democrats on a health care bill.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.