Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are confident that the GOP leadership's Affordable Care Act replacement plan will not have enough support to pass in the House when it comes to a floor vote on Thursday, despite new changes to the bill designed to get conservative lawmakers on board.
Before the release of the GOP leadership's amendment to the American Health Care Act, HFC member Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) argued that the amendment will not change enough minds. “There aren’t enough people supporting the bill to pass it,” he said.
Amash further asserted that House Speaker Paul Ryan is “dozens of votes short” in the House and that those in opposition are not limited to the Freedom Caucus.
Likewise, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is dissatisfied with the expected changes. “Well, based on what I was told in the manager's amendment, it's not sufficient,” he said.
The release of the amendment precedes an anticipated appearance from President Donald Trump at Tuesday morning's Republican Conference meeting. Trump will push conservative lawmakers to support the bill — one he has described himself as being “100 percent” behind.
Freedom Caucus members are reluctant to describe themselves as being at odds with Trump, however. Asked about it on his way to Monday night's HFC meeting, Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) chuckled and declared, “We're for Trump!” Amash — walking with Brat — quickly told Independent Journal Review that Brat wasn't speaking for him.
Amash did not quickly characterize Trump as his enemy on health care, though. He said that members voting against the bill were doing so in pursuit of the full repeal that Trump also advocated for while on the campaign trail:
“I think [Trump] is letting Congress do its job and he will sign whatever is sent to him. So it’s really on the Speaker of the House to get this right.”
The odds of any changes that would satisfy HFC members occurring before Thursday's vote are incredibly slim. “[Republican leadership] made it very clear that this is going to be a closed process,” Meadows told reporters after the caucus meeting.
Whether or not most Freedom Caucus members will remain firmly against the legislation is more uncertain. The caucus did not come out of the meeting with an official vote on the bill, and members implied that some defections are likely. Meadows is confident that the HFC — a group of roughly 30 lawmakers — will have the necessary 21 votes to stop the bill, however. “I'm trying to let my members vote the way that their constituents want them to vote,” Meadows said. ”The majority of those would be to vote against this bill."