Freedom Caucus Founder: Bad Process at Core of Healthcare Bill Failure
The former chairman and a founder of the House Freedom Caucus emphasized this morning that "good process will lead to better policy," and the rush of the White House-backed Obamacare replacement bill that crashed last week due to a lack of GOP support was "fundamental" in its failure.
"They rolled it out after it was hidden away. When they rolled it out, they said it's a binary choice, take it or leave it. Normally when you have hearings on a piece of legislation that impacts this much of our overall economy, you would bring in some witnesses and hear from some witnesses about what's going to happen if this legislation actually becomes law," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told MSNBC this morning.
"We had none of that. We went straight to mark-up. No amendments could be offered in the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Budget Committee," he added. "And finally they took a manager's amendment at the last hour to try to get people to vote for it."
Axios reported that a few days before House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was forced to pull the American Health Care Act from the floor, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told members of the Freedom Caucus, "This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill."
An unidentified congressman reportedly replied, "You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn't listen to him, either."
President Trump said Friday that he didn't blame the House conservatives for standing in the way, but that tone changed in a Sunday tweet: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!’’
The Club for Growth, which had launched a half-million-dollar ad campaign against the AHCA, said the three phases of Obamacare repeal and replace pitched by the White House could simply be rolled into one bill.
“Unite Obamacare repeal with the repeal of Obamcare regulations, and add in the free-market, cost-saving reforms that the president campaigned on, including interstate competition. Give the House a straight up-or-down vote on THAT measure," said Club for Growth president David McIntosh. "Republican voters will rally behind it with overwhelming support, and the Senate can take it up and address its rules.”
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News on Sunday that Trump "is 100 percent correct and he hits the bull's-eye in that tweet, like he often does."
"We can't be chasing the perfect all the time," Priebus added. "I mean, sometimes you have to take the good and put it in your pocket and take the win."
Jordan countered this morning that "this wasn't even good -- when no one likes the legislation, you have to do it different."
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) left the Freedom Caucus over his frustration with the AHCS shoot-down.
"The Freedom Caucus has always been the opposition caucus against the Democrats. And now when we're in the majority, it continues to be the opposition caucus against anything in the Republican Party. And we had not been included in the past, but we were included in the healthcare replacement bill," Poe told CNN this morning. "I mean, we spent an hour and a half with the President of the United States, the vice president, members of the cabinet, talking and making compromise. And compromises were made, things were added to the bill based upon the input of the Freedom Caucus, but then at the end of the day, no, it was easier to vote no."
"And so I'm angry about that. I think it's time that we lead and continue not to say no on everything that takes place when bills come forward in the House of Representatives."