Republican Congressman Justin Amash (Mich.) had some strong words for Republican leadership Friday.
Speaking with reporters about the GOP Obamacare replacement plan, Amash said that Republican leaders need to “start acting like adults” and work with those who oppose the bill in Congress.
Amash is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group made up of roughly 40 hardline conservatives who came out in opposition to the Republican health care plan after it was released this week.
Some conservative lawmakers have argued that the plan does not go far enough to repeal the policies of the Affordable Care Act. House Budget Committee Chair, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) defended the bill in a press conference on Friday morning:
“Procedurally, because we are using the reconciliation process, there are certain things we cannot do in this bill, but my friend and former colleague, Tom Price, will play a large role in further addressing these aspects of the current health care system in his role as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.”
Some of the changes that critics want to see in the bill could be executed through the reconciliation process, however. When asked whether he expected leadership to be open to amendments on the bill, Amash was skeptical. “My sense is that they’re not interested in it.” He continued:
“We can work together as a Congress and get things done, but you have to allow amendments, you have to allow debate. Let’s actually reflect the will of the American people.”
Amash asserted that the current leadership was “no better” than that under former House Speaker John Boehner, who resigned in 2015 after clashing with conservative members affiliated with the Tea Party movement. Amash said:
“The [House of Representatives] may have been more open under Speaker Boehner, sadly.”
Amash doesn’t regret the role the Freedom Caucus played in Boehner’s resignation. Instead, he believes that House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of House leadership are less open to dissent within the party because they have an ally in the White House. He said:
“It’s not surprising that some in the leadership want to take more control over Congress and limit debate because they feel that they can now negotiate directly with the White House and, in their words, ‘get things done.’”
“It might be a lot of bad things, but they’ll get things done,” Amash added.