The House Freedom Caucus announced after a Wednesday lunch meeting with Sen. Rand Paul (R.-KY) that it has 25 hard-no votes, enough to defeat the American Health Care Act crafted and promoted by Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-WI) as a rescue for insurance companies caught in the Obamacare “death spiral.”
Paul said the sooner the House Republican leadership disposes with the RyanCare bill, the sooner leadership can get together with Capitol Hill conservatives to draft a bill that repeals and replaces the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which created Obamacare.
There is no other way to go than for the speaker and his team to start over, Paul said. “They are going to have to, they don’t have the votes.”
Paul, who ran against Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, told reporters the defeat of Ryan’s insurance industry rescue bill is not a defeat for Trump.
I commend @freedomcaucus for staying united against Obamacare Lite. Enough NO votes to stop bill and restart negotiations w/ conservatives
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 22, 2017
“This is really a defeat for Paul Ryan,” he said. “Ryan is going to have to come to conservatives now and ask for the votes he doesn’t have–if he has the votes, he doesn’t have to–but he is going to have to give conservatives a seat at the table.”
The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows (R.-NC) said Ryan does not have the votes to pass RyanCare if House Republican leadership insists on bringing the bill to the floor Thursday. “There are not enough votes to pass it tomorrow.”
Members of the Freedom Caucus met with Vice President Mike Pence before their meeting with Paul, and nothing Pence said changed the caucus’s determination to oppose any health care reform bill that does not end the Individual Mandate and the Essential Benefits provisions of Obamacare. Meadows said, “We had a really good conversation. I am not going to comment on private conversations.”
Meadows said he is not persuaded by potential changes to the RyanCare bill in the Senate if it passes the House.
“I serve in the House and the only vote that I can be worried about is the vote that I have to take in the House tomorrow,” he said.
The scene in the normally quiet hallways of Rayburn House Office Building was a raucous mashup of print and broadcast reporters, still cameras and video cameras, boom microphones, cell phones on voice recorder apps, and bright lights. As the lawmakers made their way in and out of Room 2247, the media mob slowly moved in front and behind.
In the scrum surrounding Senator Paul, a female producer for CNN was knocked to the ground, and the senator immediately stopped answering questions and helped the young woman back to her feet. Once she appeared to be standing on her own two feet, the barrage of questions started up again.
The meeting ended because alarms went off warning members that they needed to vote on the House floor. Meadows and the previous HFC chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-OH) broke through the reporters and cameramen to reach the elevators–only to have the doors open in front of them for a carriage going up. Frustrated, Meadows turned to answer more questions as the passengers in the elevator had a front row view before the doors closed again.
When the bell went off for another elevator, the two men made for it. “Hold on, I am like a trapped rabbit–I gotta get through,” Meadows said.
Before the doors closed, Breitbart News asked Meadows how many no-votes were in the elevator. After giving a quick look to Jordan and the three other passengers, he replied, “Four.”
Jordan added, “Plenty.”