UPDATE: 5:15 p.m. EDT — Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Sunday resigned as a member of the Freedom Caucus as a result of the health care debacle, saying now that Republicans are in charge of the government, they can’t go on just saying no.
“In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward. Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective Member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas. It is time to lead,” Poe said in a statement.
President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday against Democrats and far-right Republicans for killing the GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday pulled his American Health Care Act before a House vote, saying he didn’t have the support to pass the measure, largely because the Freedom Caucus, mostly tea party Republicans, opposed the measure. Support among moderates also had eroded because of concessions to the far-right that were added to the bill.
Trump accused the Freedom Caucus and the Club for Growth, an advocacy group that pressures lawmakers to support limited government, of saving Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. The president said Friday he would wash his hands of the health care issue and move on to other parts of his agenda.
Polls indicatd the AHCA, which would have defunded Planned Parenthood, had little public support. An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office showed implementing the law would strip millions of Americans of their health insurance, forcing people to again head for emergency rooms, a more costly way of delivering primary care.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the president “petulant” for his reaction to the defeat and threats to undermine the ACA, which remains in effect, and called on Republicans to work with Democrats to improve the law.
Schumer said Trump has exhibited a lack of competence.
“You cannot run the presidency like you run a real estate deal. You can't tweet your way through pit. You can't threaten and intimidate and say I'll walk away,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It's more complicated. But even more to the point, the president campaigned as a populist against the Democratic and Republican establishments. But he's been captured by the hard right wealthy special interests. That's who loved his proposal on the Trumpcare, because it gave huge tax cuts to the rich.”
Schumer predicted if Trump and Ryan take the same approach to tax reform, that also will meet with defeat.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said on “This Week” his members have one goal on health care: “Get premiums down for all Americans. And as we look at that, that remains our primary focus.”
Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney, one of the original members of the Freedom Caucus, said there’s plenty of blame to go around, calling Washington “a lot more broken than President Trump thought it was.” In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mulvaney said he has no idea what it would take to get the far-right on board.
Mulvaney said he thinks the bill’s demise came about because lawmakers “still [are] paying attention to special interests. They’re still paying attention to getting re-elected as opposed to doing the right thing.”
Ryan, R-Wis., on CBS “Face the Nation,” said the failure of the AHCA will make tax reform that much more difficult.
The GOP health plan would have repealed nearly $1 trillion in taxes that are part of the ACA and would have coupled those cuts with cuts to Medicaid to keep the budget deficit in check.
“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult,” said Ryan. “But it does not in any way make it impossible.
“That just means the Obamacare taxes stay with Obamacare. We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code.”