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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Freedom Caucus members say GOP doesn't have votes to pass healthcare plan

Freedom Caucus members say GOP doesn't have votes to pass healthcare plan
By Jessie Hellmann - 03-07-17 21:57 PM EST

House Freedom Caucus members said Tuesday the GOP's ObamaCare repeal and replace plan does not have the votes necessary to pass the lower chamber.

The 40-member conservative caucus didn't take a formal position on the GOP's plan at their meeting Tuesday night, but several members indicated afterward that they would not support it.

"Right now the Speaker of the House does not have the votes to pass this bill unless he's got substantial Democratic support," Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said after leaving the meeting.

The House needs 218 votes to pass the bill, meaning Republicans can only lose 20 members.

Conservatives take issue with the plan's refundable tax credits, which they call a new entitlement program.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, met with the caucus Tuesday on behalf of the Trump administration. He did not tell the caucus to back GOP leadership's repeal and replace plan, said caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

"He let us know they're still open to negotiations. That this is not something that is set in stone," Meadows said.

"The White House is willing to negotiate ... and look at things we can coalesce around. I don't know that there is a bill at this point that has the necessary 218 votes to coalesce around, and so we got more work to do as the Freedom Caucus to come up with a solution."

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said he doesn't think the White House is firmly behind GOP leadership's plan. 

"I find it a little bit interesting when I heard leadership say that they have a bill that is the set bill and that the president is fully supportive of the bill," Labrador said.

"I think he's fully supportive of the process. I think the president wants replace and repeal bill on his desk and he wants to encourage us all to do our jobs as legislators."

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday afternoon they would introduce their own legislation to repeal ObamaCare.

The caucus already backed a replacement plan drafted by Paul and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).

Earlier Tuesday, Trump said he is "proud to support" the GOP leadership's plan. And Vice President Pence said separately: "We're certainly open to improvements and to recommendations in the legislative process," but warned conservative lawmakers who want to scrap it "this is the bill."

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