Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney confessed that he “probably share[s] part of the blame” for Republicans’ embarrassing failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, during an interview Wednesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
Mulvaney, who served as a South Carolina congressman before President Donald Trump selected him as OMB director, said the GOP caucus in the lower chamber of Congress faces fundamental problems of unity.
“If they’re that broken over there, then they will end up being an impediment to the president’s administration and his agenda for the whole two years of this Congress.”
“The House is broken,” Mulvaney said, and that he should have realized that challenge while promoting the American Health Care Act.
“I think the House, especially, was more broken than anybody realized — including me,” Mulvaney admitted. “I think I probably share some of the blame in not knowing it, because I was most recently there. And I just did not see that.”
Noting that he had always “got along with folks” when he served in the House, the OMB director expressed his astonishment that he did not recognize the rift between House moderates and members of the Freedom Caucus — the staunchly conservative wing of the House, which received much of the blame for the bill’s failure to pass muster. Trump himself even criticized the Freedom Caucus members directly in the aftermath of the health care debacle.
“Remember, I’m a founding member of the Freedom Caucus,” Mulvaney noted. “The whole idea was that we were supposed to be the folks who would push, push, push, but at the end actually got good stuff across the finish line. Something happened when I left from that group and I’m not sure what it was.”
Mulvaney insisted that he told the president that he believed “the way the health care thing was supposed to shake out” would be for the Freedom Caucus to “push, push, push to try and make the bill better in their eyes, more conservative in their eyes, and that they would deliver the votes necessary to get the bill across the finish line at the end.”
“That’s how it played out up until the very end,” Mulvaney said, noting that the Freedom Caucus members were not satisfied that the AHCA would fulfill the Republican Party’s campaign promises for a full “repeal and replace” of Obamacare.
Mulvaney claimed the plan put forward by GOP leadership did offer the Freedom Caucus “a full repeal of Obamacare,” but Ingraham noted some key elements of Obamacare remained in the bill.
“We gave them more of a repeal for Obamacare than they had in 2016 when they voted for it,” Mulvaney amended, adding that the House wanted “something that we can’t give them” because of Senate reconciliation rules.
“I think there’s some issues between members of the House and issues between various groups in the House,” Mulvaney continued. “There’s some trust issues with leadership. There’s some trust issues with various members that they have to work out. And the president can’t fix that.”
“The president can’t fix what’s broken in the House,” Mulvaney added. “The House has to fix that, and I think that’s what we learned during health care.”
The OMB director did add, however, that he feels the House Freedom Caucus members accrued an unfair amount of the blame for the AHCA’s rejection and failure.
“I also didn’t realize that the moderates were so opposed to this kind of stuff,” Mulvaney said. “But we’re going to get it right, and I think the House is moving in the right direction … It seems like they’re making some progress.”
If the House fails to deliver a workable health care reform proposal within the next few weeks and months, Mulvaney warned that House may reach a breaking point.
“If the House can’t work out health care, then it’s unlikely to be able to work out tax reform and infrastructure,” Mulvaney said. “If they’re that broken over there, then they will end up being an impediment to the president’s administration and his agenda for the whole two years of this Congress. So they do need to get that worked out.”