An ally of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) breached protocol when he accused Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, of working in league with House Democrats to protect the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.
“Mark Meadows betrayed Trump and America and supported Pelosi and Dems to protect Obamacare,” read Austin’s re-Tweet of a Tweet by Rep. Sean Mahoney (D-NY), who was a senior staffer in the White House of President Bill Clinton.
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) March 24, 2017
Mark Meadows betrayed Trump and America and supported Pelosi and Dems to protect Obamacare. https://t.co/zjcfmMhs9P
— Rep. Austin Scott (@AustinScottGA08) March 25, 2017
Scott was one of the supporters of the speaker’s American Health Care Act, which was crafted privately by the speaker’s staff, selected lawmakers, and according to Breitbart News reporting, representatives of the insurance industry. Ryan released the text of the bill on March 6 and he ushered it through the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Budget committees without a single Republican amendment proposed nor a single Democratic amendment approved.
Capitol Hill conservatives asked to be part of the process, but they were dismissed.
When the bill was going through the committees and heading to the House floor, conservatives were told there was only one bill under consideration and that they had a “binary choice,” either vote to rescue Obamacare or not.
Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:
Some were willing to pin the blame of the bill’s collapse on the hard-line members of the House Freedom Caucus, the main group of holdouts. Many members of the conservative group wouldn’t bite on the legislation, even after leaders made eleventh-hour changes Thursday to pull back on Obamacare’s “essential health benefits,” one of their key asks.
“I guess people who like Obamacare can thank the Freedom Caucus,” Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, said minutes after the decision to pull the legislation was announced. “People who wanted us to replace it should know that the majority of us were trying to do the right thing and get a new piece of legislation passed.”
Scott was one of the first Republicans to support Ryan for speaker in the fall of 2o15, before Ryan announced he was in the running, when he told Albany, Georgia WFXL-TV:
He said he thinks it’s more important to get it right than to get it fast.
Scott said he believes the votes are there to make U.S. Representative Paul Ryan the next Speaker of the House and he supports Ryan in running for the seat.
In the context of Capitol Hill dynamics, it would be strange for an ally of the speaker to attack a fellow Republican or a group of Republicans with considering the assumption that his attack was approved by the speaker.
Scott’s Tweet is also in line with Ryan’s spin from Friday that conservatives were the reason why he pulled the bill.
“I don’t want to cast blame, there is a bloc of No-votes that we had that is why this didn’t pass, there were a sufficient number of votes that prevented it from passing and they didn’t change their votes,” the speaker said at his Friday 4 p.m. press conference, held just as the vote would have been wrapping up on the House floor had it gone forward.
The bloc of No-votes that didn’t change is a direct reference to the House Freedom Caucus, whose lock on north of 25 No-votes was enough to keep Ryan from the 216 votes he needed, assuming none of the 193 House Democrats crossed the aisle to save the bill.
What Ryan did not refer to was the bloc of votes that had supported the bill and were flaking off.
These were the moderates, mainly members of the Tuesday Group caucus, who started to leave Monday, after the speaker allowed slight changes in the wording of the American Health Care Act, along with a work requirement and changes in the formula New York State uses to allocate Medicaid costs. The moderate House Republicans were told they had to go along with defunding Planned Parenthood, but they were not ready for Ryan to take out the individual abortion tax credit was part of the original AHCA, also.
While Meadows continued to negotiate with President Donald Trump, prominent moderates, such as Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), the leader of the Tuesday Group, and the highest ranking No-vote Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) announced they were no longer supporting the bill.
By Thursday night the whole bill was stuck. Any concession to Republicans on the left lost votes from the right. Any concession on the right lost votes on the left.
House Republican leadership pushed off the vote from Thursday to Friday because the House Rules Committee had suspended consideration of the AHCA in anticipation of new changes in the language. When Rules finally passed the final text, the significant change was the modification of the Essential Health Benefits provision in Obamacare, the rule that means there are benefits plans are required to carry.
The modification was not enough to win conservative votes and the moderates started for the exits, rather than risk a tough political bill that was certainly going to fail, enough of them pulled away, so that Ryancare not just going to lose, it was going to lose big.