WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday Republicans in Congress will lobby Freedom Caucus members who refused to support the GOP health care bill, but didn’t set a deadline for bringing the measure to a vote.
He also said he understood and shared President Donald Trump’s frustration with the Freedom Caucus, a group of hard right conservatives numbering about 30. It doesn’t make its membership roster public.
“About 90 percent of our conference is for this bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, and about 10 percent are not. And that’s not enough to pass a bill,” said Ryan.
The caucus said the GOP bill left too much of the Affordable Care Act in place.
“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.
Ryan said he doesn’t expect to get any Democratic support for the American Health Care Act.
“I don’t think it’s a stretch of the mind to suggest that the Democrats disagree with us on repealing Obamacare,” said Ryan.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a press conference earlier Thursday, said Republicans have undermined the Affordable Care Act’s implementation and Ryan’s decision not to work with Democrats means repeal of the ACA should be taken off the table.
Ryan said he is urging Republican House members to keep talking to those who disagree with the GOP bill.
“I’m not going to put a timeline on it because I’m going to make sure that we get this done right,” said Ryan. A vote had been set for last Thursday, but it was postponed indefinitely when it became clear that the Freedom Caucus would not support it and some moderate Republicans also were balking, leaving the GOP leadership unable to get the 228 votes needed for passage.
Pelosi, at a press conference immediately before Ryan’s appearance, said the Affordable Care Act is “by and large” helping to cover the uninsured and prevent health care costs from skyrocketing.
She criticized Republicans for “sabotaging” the Affordable Care Act, saying that ever since the GOP gained control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, they have taken steps to block implementation of parts of the law.
She said that the GOP health care bill is another effort by Republicans to dismantle governmental protections for the American people.
“This is all about deconstruction of government,” said Pelosi.