One of the founding members of the House Freedom Caucus has resigned in protest of the hard-line conservative group’s opposition to the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said that both President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan reached out to the caucus and made changes to the GOP health care proposal several times.
“No matter what changes were made, the goalposts kept getting moved,” Poe said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “And then at the end of the day, ‘no’ was the answer. And sometimes you’ve got to say ‘yes.’”
On CNN’s “New Day,” Poe said some members of the Freedom Caucus are so set on being an “opposition caucus” that they would “vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote.”
The Texas congressman formally resigned from the group late Sunday.
“Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do,” he said in a statement. “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.”
A representative for the founder of the caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., did not immediately return a request for comment.
Alyssa Farah, spokeswoman for the Freedom Caucus, said on Twitter that the Republican party ought to be thanking those who prevented the bill’s passage.
“Politically, the GOP should thank the cons & mods who helped stop this bill 4 not sending them in midterms w/ higher premiums under AHCA,” Farah wrote.
“The HFC roots for Trump’s success,” she added. “The group could not in good conscience send him into ’20 reelection w/back-to-back yrs of higher premiums.”
Poe’s resignation came hours after Trump publicly blamed the Freedom Caucus and other Republican groups in the House for the failure of the GOP bill that he fully backed. The House leadership tried to make the law more palatable to hard-line conservatives, but lost support among moderates as it did so. Ultimately, Ryan scrapped the vote late Friday.
“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” Trump tweeted early Sunday.
But speaking to reporters at the Oval Office shortly after the bill was pulled, Trump resisted the urge to point his finger at the Freedom Caucus when asked it he felt betrayed by the group.
“I’m not betrayed,” Trump said. “They’re friends of mine. I’m disappointed because we could’ve had it. So I’m disappointed. I’m a little surprised, I could tell you. We really had it, it was pretty much there … but what’s going to come out of it is a better bill. Because there were things in his bill that I didn’t particularly like.”
President Trump blames Democrats for health care bill loss
After the vote on the American Health Care Act was canceled for the second day in a row, President Trump blamed Democrats for the failure to get a vote. He said, “We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do.” He added, “The best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode.”
On Sunday, Meadows refused to fire back.
“No one has been more self-critiquing than me,” Meadows said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. “I can tell you as I’ve looked at all of this, I said, could I have spent a little bit more time, should I have spent more time with the [GOP’s more moderate] Tuesday Group, more time with Democrats to find some consensus?”
Meadows also refused to say that the GOP fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is over.
“It’s like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime,” he said. “We may be in overtime, but I can tell you, at the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be President Trump on this. Because he will deliver. He’s committed to the American people. And we’re committed to helping him get there.”
Freedom Caucus chair says ‘no conversation’ about replacing Speaker Ryan
House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows is interviewed on “This Week.”
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