Exclusive: Freedom Caucus Chair Meadows: Senate Health Care Bill Is a ‘Non-Starter’

Mark Meadows
Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that the Senate health care bill is a “non-starter.”

Meadows told Breitbart News that he will work with his colleagues in the House and the Senate to create a more constructive dialogue on issues such as tax reform and infrastructure. He explained:

It’s interesting, without giving the names of everybody we’re including, a number of us, Jim Jordan including, are working with some of the Tuesday Group members and will meet on an ongoing basis to start working on tax reform and infrastructure and anything else. But that’s not just in the House. Jim Jordan is taking lead on this. We would have people on the Republican side in the House and meet with a variety of the Senate members in a bicameral way. All of a sudden, we get to look at issues from a number of different perspectives and create a variety of different working groups. We would also create working groups with Democrats and Republicans as well and it’s been tried before. The results have not been outstanding but now is not the time to give up and see what we can do.

Congressman Meadows and the Freedom Caucus came out in favor of staying through the August recess to figure out tax reform and pass a long and short-term budget deal. Meadows, along with his colleague Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said that they support work requirements for entitlements such as food stamps to break the cycle of poverty and balance the budget. Meadows also revealed to Breitbart News that he and other Freedom Caucus members met with Budget chair Diane Black (R-TN), discussing potential solutions to pass a budget through the House. Meadows said:

I think that one we need to stay here to get it done and if there’s a deal to be made let’s continue to work on it. If there’s not a deal, then let’s regroup and put some parameters in place to lower taxes and get the economy going. We believe work requirements for able-bodied adults on some of the food stamps and TANF would help break the cycle of poverty and help our country. I think that none of us are opposed to a safety net, there for those that need it and yet at the same time what we’ve found over time is that we’re not willing to make the hard decisions to get the ball rolling.

Earlier this morning, members of the Freedom Caucus met with Chairman Black to figure out how to get a budget and we’re working to craft very specific instructions for reconciliation to be written. We believe that mandatory spending reform and along with tax reform is very doable and we told Chairman Black this morning that if we have a long-term plan that reduces the deficit and spending then we’re willing to join in a very short period of time to look at increasing defense spending and increased spending in other areas as long as we have a long-term plan to be fiscally responsible.

On Thursday, the Freedom Caucus announced that it opposed the Reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act in its current, arguing that the House needs to make changes to better protect Americans’ privacy. The Freedom Caucus statement read, “Government surveillance activities under the FISA Amendments Act have violated Americans’ constitutionally protected rights. We oppose any reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act that does not include substantial reforms to the government’s collection and use of Americans’ data.”

Meadows told Breitbart News his thoughts on the need for reform of the FISA reauthorization. He said, “I think that it is critically important that we tell the American people and specifically our intelligence gathering entities that our 4th Amendment rights our to be protected. We have allowed the constitution to be a guide instead of a rock-solid principle and that’s a dangerous place to go so it is all about making sure our 4th Amendment is protected and make sure lawful search and seize is protected and make sure we are working in a real way with our intel community to allow the greatest flexibility to get the bad guys without encroaching on our constitutional rights of American citizens.”

Congressman Meadows explained to Breitbart News that the current reports that the Senate will release a milquetoast repeal Obamacare bill that would include potentially keeping many Obamacare taxes. Meadows says that this is a “non-starter” for him. He said:

I met with a few of my Senate colleagues on health care to not only understand where they are at but also to understand where they are going. To suggest that they are going to allow the taxes to stay in place and to not lower premiums in a significant way is a non-starter for me, it is critically important that the number one objective we have is to lower premiums. But that does not necessarily mean we can turn a blind eye to the health care cost of that. I’m optimistic that the hard work over the last several months we did will provide real fruit and the ultimate product that comes out of the Senate.

There’s an understanding that you have to have 51 Senators and 218 in the House when it comes back and some of the things they are discussing in the Senate would need meet neither one of those vote thresholds. Based upon my conversations with my Senate colleagues, I do think there is a path forward that is different from what we sent over in the House and it would satisfy the needs of those with pre-existing conditions and those who want lower premiums.

Congressman Meadows also dispelled the CBO’s report that 23 million Americans would lose health insurance under the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). He said:

The CBO report needs to be put in context. This is the same CBO that project that twice the amount of people would be on Obamacare now as they are now. These are the same people that said that 23 million people would lose their health care in the individual markets when only 9.3 million of them have only signed up to date. So they actually have more people losing health care coverage than they actually have people signed up today. So the 23 million Americans that would lose coverage  is actually based on an inflated estimate that we never achieved and to put it in context there’s 9.3 million in the individual market and another large group in the Medicaid market. In truth, allowing greater flexibility and allowing prices to come down will provide a better coverage and provide an opportunity for many people to quit making decisions between their mortgage payment and their insurance payment. The estimates are not based on sound math, they’re based on D.C. math which I’ve found to be very problematic over time.

Chairman Meadows explained to Breitbart News that despite the concern over the Senate health care bill, he remains convinced that the Senate will have a bill ready in the next couple of weeks.

“Those conversations with some of my Senate colleagues give me a great sense of optimism that we will have something in the next few weeks,” Meadows said.

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