Politics

Conservatives Demand Congress Stay Until Health Care Done

House Freedom caucus wants August recess canceled unless Obamacare replacement advances

The conservative House Freedom Caucus demanded Tuesday evening that Congress advance a partial repeal of Obamacare and take action on tax reform or else cancel the August recess — a break that sends lawmakers home for an entire month.

The House narrowly passed a health care reform bill in May. GOP senators subsequently said they would write their own bill, and in the past week those efforts have stalled.

“We need to work through August recess to get everything done,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters Tuesday after he exited the group’s meeting. “We believe that we need to stay through August to get through tax reform … and get our appropriations done.”

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Following the meeting, the House Freedom Caucus released a statement adding, “The House Freedom Caucus has taken an official position in support of the House staying in session through the August recess to continue working to accomplish the priorities of the American people.”

The caucus included in its press release the group’s personal mission statement, saying, “The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.”

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President Donald Trump launched a new effort Tuesday to encourage sluggish members of Congress to move on the key legislative items.

“The Senate I’m sure will follow suit and get a bill across the finish line this summer that will be great health care for Americans. And I’m looking forward to seeing it — so looking forward to seeing it,” Trump said during one of the meetings he took part in with Republican lawmakers Tuesday.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters following the meetings with Trump that “we’re getting close to having a proposal to whip and to take to the floor.”

There are 52 Senate Republicans, and the Party can only afford to lose two votes on the health care bill. (Vice President Mike Pence can break a tie.)

During Tuesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer admonished Congress for its tardiness and pointed to Anthem’s Tuesday announcement that the insurer would be exiting the Obamacare exchange in Ohio, leaving “19,000 Ohioans without any options.”

“The American people have been saddled with the bill for Washington’s inability to get this disaster taken care of, and it’s simply not right for them to have to pay it any longer,” Spicer said.

“Now that [Congress is] back from Memorial Day recess, we really look forward to carrying on with the agenda,” he added. “We just don’t have time to waste.”

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