Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that “the time for talk is over” and that Republicans must repeal Obamacare.
On Wednesday, Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), along with a dozen other Freedom Caucus members, announced his intent to file a discharge petition that would put a clean repeal bill of Obamacare before the House floor. The discharge petition would require 218 signatures from Republican members of Congress.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows explained why he believes that Republicans need to take action now to fulfill their pledge to repeal Obamacare. Meadows revealed:
I think the real frustration is that the American people do not understand why we didn’t put something on President Trump’s desk on January 20th and now here we are on July 20th and we still have not done anything on health care, and it is our belief that if our leadership is not willing to put an up or down vote on a straight repeal and send it to the Senate, that the American people’s voice needs to be heard. They need to call their member of Congress and see where they are on voting for a straight repeal like we promised what we would do for the last five to seven years. So we started yesterday with this resolution we put in and filed at the Clerk’s desk. The resolution has to sit there for seven legislative days and ultimately if we get 218 members of the House to sign onto that discharge petition then it will force our leadership to bring it up for a vote. This is a drastic step we are taking, but these are times that inaction will not be rewarded by the American people, the frustration level has reached a fever pitch and if we go ahead and repeal, we will have a longer path of 24 months to find a replacement. If the Senate is not successful in finding a compromise, then hopefully this provides a vehicle to promise what we would do for the American people.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed on Wednesday that a straight repeal of Obamacare without a replacement would result in 32 million more Americans without health insurance over the next ten years. The CBO also estimated that the deficit would lower by $473 billion over the next decade. Chairman Meadows rebuked the CBO’s estimate of straight repeal of Obamacare, arguing that the CBO frequently failed to gauge how many Americans would sign up for Obamacare.
One, the CBO indicates that 32 million people will lose their coverage, well that’s very difficult to do since there’s only 9.3 million people on the Affordable Care Act exchanges right now. So, they make assumptions based upon their faulty projection and they don’t even change it. Right now, they’re projecting that there would be 21 million people on the Affordable Care Act and there’s less than half of that. The CBO is the only group that makes the weatherman’s ten-day forecast look like exact science. They seem to miss their projections with extreme regularity. Now, that being said, there’s one thing about health care that Congressman Tom Garrett pointed and that it’s not enough to have insurance if your deductibles are too high and your co-pays are too high, it’s still unaffordable. So we have to reduce not only premiums, we have to drive down deductibles to make sure it’s affordable for people on Main Street.
The Freedom Caucus needs 218 signatures from House Republicans to put the straight repeal bill of Obamacare on the House floor, even against the wishes of the House leadership. The North Carolina congressman said:
Well there’s going to be a natural reluctance to sign onto anything if leadership discourages us from not bringing up a straight repeal to the House floor. I’m very confident in the voice and the power of the American people. As they’ve weighed in, we’ve had at least a dozen members that are not members of the Freedom Caucus within the last 24 hours indicating that they’re going to sign on. I think that you’ll see an overwhelming majority of the conference sign on and then it will be up to our leadership to evaluate that and whether they should bring it up to a vote even before we get to 218. I’m very confident in the American people’s voice being heard here on Capitol Hill. With that, getting to 218 members of the House is certainly something that seems doable.
We’ve had conversations with our leadership asking them to bring up a straight repeal bill vote and they did not see the merits of that and so we did inform them that we intended to file this resolution and asking members to sign on, so certainly they may have to see what I believe to be an overwhelming call from the American people. They want action, they want something put on President Trump’s desk that certainly is at least something that we put on President Obama’s desk and allow him to sign it into law.
The Freedom Caucus chair explained how Rep. Garrett’s discharge petition would prevent House leadership, Democrats, or moderates from adding amendments to water down the Obamacare repeal bill. The House last used a discharge petition to revive the U.S. Export-Import Bank four months after its charter expired. Meadows told Breitbart News:
It’s actually a little more nuanced approach, this is actually addressing a discharge petition with a rule and it allows us to control the process where we do not receive amendments to the 2015 bill that would water it down or allow for a poison pill amendment. We’ve used this as a tool to not only say we want the same bill as the one that we voted on in 2015 but unlike the Export-Import debate this doesn’t require Democrats to discharge it. Obviously, we have 242 Republican members of the House so all we have to do is sign on without a single Democrat to force action on the House floor.
If we do not there will not only be political consequences of not doing what we said we would do but also the consequences of Obamacare continuing to implode, and premiums continuing to go up and providers leaving states, and just sitting back and doing nothing is not an option.
Meadows continued, chiding his Senate colleagues for their lack of action to repeal Obamacare. The North Carolina congressman said:
We’re not seeing any results. We’re seeing a lot of rhetoric but not a lot of results. It’s particularly important that we not only get a repeal but a replacement. But if we can’t get a compromise on a replacement, then let’s certainly do what we all agree upon, which is that Obamacare is hurting families and driving up premiums so let’s repeal that and then work on a replacement that actually continues to drive down premiums and make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered.
I think that a lot of people are looking [at] the potential consequences of a vote and how that may affect their career on Capitol Hill. I can tell you that I did not come to Capitol Hill for a long-term career, I came to represent the people that have given me the honor of serving them. So we’ve got a long approach of this particular piece of approach, we can’t shy away from them. This is all about doing what is right for the country, right for our constituents, and ultimately what is right for insurance premiums and driving down the costs of health care.
Meadows suggested that the Senate should change its filibuster rules that make it easy for Democrats to obstruct the work of Republicans to repeal Obamacare and pass a tax reform package. President Donald Trump recently called for the Senate to switch to a 51 vote majority to pass legislation.
Meadows said, “We are hearing from leader McConnell that he is willing to look at a straight up and down vote on a straight repeal but they have a motion to proceed there that is at a 50-vote threshold on a budget reconciliation vehicle and so it’s not the same vehicle. There’s a growing frustration with the American people about the 60-vote cloture issue in the Senate and they believe that we need to go back to the old filibuster rules and make someone stand there. That would force people to take a tough vote, it’s time that senators put their name up for or against and ultimately be accountable for that.”
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows concluded, “The only underlying theme is, the time for talk is over, we must provide real action, real results, or the American people will never regain the confidence in government that we promise we would restore.”