Exclusive – Former Tuesday Group Co-chair Tom MacArthur: ‘We Have to Learn as a Party to Work Together’

US Representative Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) speaks to constituents during a town hall meeting in Willingboro, New Jersey on May 10, 2017. MacArthur wrote the amendment to the American Health Care Act that revived the failed bill, delivering a legislative victory for US President Donald Trump. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK …
DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images

Former Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that Republicans “have to learn as a party to work together.”

Congressman MacArthur brokered a deal on health care with House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-NC), known as the MacArthur amendment, which led to the American Health Care Act passing through the House.

Despite MacArthur’s negotiations with the White House and House leadership, the Tuesday Group’s other co-chair, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), and 11 other members of the Tuesday Group voted against the AHCA.

Congressman Tom MacArthur cited a vocal minority of the Tuesday Group that he believes do not want to engage with other members of the Republican Party, including the Freedom Caucus. He also explained that despite many establishment Republicans voting several times on symbolic measures to repeal Obamacare, they could not vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill that would eliminate many provisions of Obamacare. MacArthur said:

I think it comes to why I ran for co-chair in the first place, you know I was happy to join as common-sense problem solvers, and I listened for my first two years when they complained about their inability to accomplish things and people felt that they were not being taken seriously. I thought I could help solve that. What I found when I got into health care reform was that there was a vocal minority of the Tuesday Group that was not interested in compromising and working with members of our own party or the Freedom Caucus. I just think that you can’t lead people where they do not want to go. Most of our members voted for the bill, but more than half of the no votes on the health care bill were Tuesday Group members.

That’s difficult to get my mind around that people would vote to repeal Obamacare dozens of times when it didn’t matter and when we actually had a chance to reform health care, to walk away, to not engage, to not negotiate with members of our own party, I just concluded that I’m not looking to be divisive within the Group. I’m not going to change who I am and I will continue to work with everybody. I thought that it would be better if it was not confused with my role as co-chair.

I think there’s people coming from different places, and 80 percent of our members voted for the bill. I believe that amongst those who didn’t, some of them are in tough districts I think they were concerned about the fallout from that. I think that some of them just don’t want to repeal Obamacare regardless of what they say. No bill would ever be good enough. Beyond that, I think you would have to ask individual people why. As far as the unwillingness to work with the Freedom Caucus, I don’t get it and I understand that people get frustrated sometimes with how different members conduct themselves, but I have found that the Freedom Caucus people are focused on policy, which I respect. They’re consistent and they’re trying to accomplish their goals, and I have found them not difficult to work with. I represent a different district, but I have found that as I have explained that and where they explain where they are coming from, it is not hard to find common ground.

Congressman MacArthur explained that, despite his resignation, he will be able to work with other members of the party without the same pressure that would arise if he were still co-chair of the Tuesday Group. MacArthur said:

I think I will be able to do without the same tensions, but I made no secret about it. I strongly believe that any inclination of the Democrats to work with us ended the day when Barack Obama left the White House and Donald Trump entered. I’m as bipartisan as anybody, my voting record is bipartisan, and I work carefully with Democrats, and I think people are delusional if you think that Democrats are going to help us do the big things that need to get done.

In which, we need to start rolling back the administrative state that President Obama moved forward so aggressively, where the government is involved in everything. It’s not going to be easy to roll back, and we’re obviously not going to help from the Democrats on health care, on tax reform, on financial reform, on everything we need to do. We have to learn as a party how to work together, and this is really at the crux of why I had to resign. There are too many members, so-called problem-solving members, that don’t want to solve problems with the members our own party. To me is absolutely critical to our future, and although they are a minority, it makes it difficult for me to operate as a member of Congress.

It’s time to govern; we cannot sit on the sidelines and shoot spitballs, that’s not governing.

The New Jersey Republican explained that Republicans need to stop attacking President Donald Trump and the administration because that only plays to the interests of the left. To achieve results, Republicans must put aside their differences. MacArthur told Breitbart News:

I think people need to listen to one another and work together. I think ideally some of these discussions could have and should have happened when the bill was still in committee, however, that’s hard because myself and Mark Meadows were not on the committee. I think there would have been less angst amongst members had they felt they had more voice in committee and they might be helpful. The reality is that the process is relatively ok and I think that it’s member attitudes that will dictate our success going forward. Are we going to be able to work together? If we do, we are going to have a chance of succeeding, if not, we will fail. I think that the Republican conference, we have to stop piling on at every chance to attack the administration because the left to me is the hammer looking for a nail. And if they don’t find a nail they will find another one. Republicans don’t have to pile on every time the left is complicit with the media and starts an attack. It’s ok to reserve judgment and follow the facts as they come out. That takes time and patience and discipline to avoid attacking the administration every time there’s a headline. I think that’s a pretty important part of the Republicans’ strategy going forward.

House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) praised Tom MacArthur in an exclusive statement to Breitbart News. He said, “Tom MacArthur has always been a good friend and an honest broker — but most importantly, he’s someone who has always been willing to go above and beyond to engage with all members of our party. With all the challenges our country faces, our conference would do well to emulate his commitment to engaging with everyone, regardless of policy differences.”

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