Following the postponement of the vote on the House GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are calling for additional negotiations with the White House and centrist Republicans.
Members of the conservative group gathered for more than two hours following a White House meeting with President Donald Trump earlier Thursday to discuss their strategy going forward.
After the conservative lawmakers broke for the afternoon, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters that many of the group’s members still were opposed to the bill, called the American Health Care Act.
“We have not gotten enough of our members to get to yes at this point under what we’re currently considering,” Meadows said.
But the North Carolina Republican stressed that he and his fellow conservatives were working with the White House in an attempt to negotiate changes to the bill that would get them to “yes.”
“If we can make sure that there is an adequate safety net, that pre-existing conditions are taken care of, where truly premiums start to go down for moms and dads, that’s what it’s all about,” Meadows continued.
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., a Freedom Caucus member, told reporters Trump extended an offer to the group Thursday to include a repeal of Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirements, 10 services plans are required to cover, in the bill.
But Harris said members wanted more of the regulations repealed and voted to reject Trump’s deal during their meeting.
Still, the Maryland Republican said he was optimistic negotiations would continue.
“These are substantive issues,” Harris told reporters. “Substantive issues take awhile to get right. The Democrats took 14 months to get this policy right.”
Meadows, meanwhile, put the number of Republicans opposing the bill between 30 and 40. A growing number of centrist Republicans have announced their opposition to the GOP’s health care plan.
Following the Freedom Caucus meeting, Meadows said he was planning to reach out to members of the Tuesday Group, a group of centrist Republicans, to “have some discussions on how we can come together and have a consensus, realizing there’s different motivations for different members of our conference.”
The looming vote on the House GOP’s health care bill was initially supposed to take place just two weeks after Republican leaders rolled out the plan.
Three House committees marked up the legislation, and the House Rules Committee met for 10 hours Wednesday to debate the bill.
Meadows told reporters that after reading over changes to the bill put forth by the White House and Republican leadership, members of the Freedom Caucus still had questions as to what the bill did and didn’t do, including whether the plan would deny veterans access to tax credits.
“If we’re not sure of those answers, we need to read the bill and understand the bill fully before we take a vote on it,” he said.