Published: Thu, March 23, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Freedom Caucus holdout: GOP's Obamacare replacement an 'assault on our individual' rights

Freedom Caucus holdout: GOP's Obamacare replacement an 'assault on our individual' rights

President Donald Trump and House leaders revved up pressure Wednesday on balky conservatives and other Republican lawmakers as crunch time approaches on the party's health care overhaul bill, a drive GOP leaders concede they can't afford to lose.

Speaking to reporters outside a Freedom Caucus meeting after a White House meeting, the group called on leaders to start over on ObamaCare, saying the replacement bill does not have the votes to pass Thursday.

Numerous changes were made to placate conservatives, including giving states the option to take a fixed Medicaid block grant and to impose work requirements on childless, able-bodied adults covered under the program.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said the GOP bill would harm millions of Californians.

One top Republican not authorized to speak about the whipping process said the leadership remained confident it will collect enough support but is weighing scheduling options.

Several conservatives leaving the Monday night meeting were briefed on the changes that GOP leaders were making to the bill in an effort to get broader support but they all told CNN that based on their early read on these they wouldn't be enough to get their support. Conservatives swear they have the votes to take down the bill if it's put to a vote without changes, and an informal whip count compiled by The Huffington Post seems to back that up.

This week's vote on the health care plan will be a key moment in the political history of the Trump presidency. "And I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a "rendezvous with destiny" we have right here". Not only that, but the Congressional Budget Office's score of the bill says that premiums will spike immediately in 2018 by 15%-20%, followed by only a 10% reduction by 2026.

The group met Monday night for several hours with three Republican senators who have also expressed discontentment with the House legislation: Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.

"Trumpcare will force lower and middle-income Americans to pay more for less coverage while the wealthiest Americans receive huge tax breaks", Cohen said.

That compounded the concerns of Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-N.Y.), a Tuesday Group member who represents parts of New York City that would be hurt by the change.

One surprising holdout was Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), who was among the first House members to endorse Trump and has emerged as one of his most stalwart backers.

Republican leaders face a conundrum: If they move the bill to the right, moderates go running; move it to the left, and conservative opponents dig in. An aide said more than 25 caucus members will vote against the bill in its current form.

"This is not a personality decision; this is a policy decision", Meadows said.

While a win would offer clear evidence that Ryan knows how to do his job as Speaker, a loss will erode his credibility with the White House, energize Freedom Caucus Republicans who are unhappy with the compromise he proposed, and leave Democrats feeling much better about the damage they can cause the majority party.

The others insisted the Freedom Caucus would hold fast. He said there's more than the 21 votes needed to block the measure. "So when [GOP leaders] say they've got the numbers, they don't have the numbers". "Nobody knew health care could be so complicated".

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