Meadows: Freedom Caucus Open to Changes

White House negotiating with Republicans opposing health bill

Rep. Mark Meadows said his conservative caucus was open to negotiating with the White House on changes to a health care bill opposed by enough Republican members to sink the measure. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Mark Meadows said his conservative caucus was open to negotiating with the White House on changes to a health care bill opposed by enough Republican members to sink the measure. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 22, 2017 at 8:21pm

By Rema Rahman, Lindsey McPherson and Joe Williams/CQ Roll Call

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said Wednesday he and members of the conservative group are open to negotiating changes to a health care bill that is struggling to gain enough votes by Republicans to pass the House.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re very optimistic that if we work around the clock between now and noon tomorrow, that we’re going to be able to hopefully find some common ground,” the North Carolina Republican said.

Meadows and several members of the caucus have said previously they would vote to oppose the bill and had enough “nos” to sink the measure but are now working with the White House to come to a deal.

“There’s been no agreements on anything that would modify the House bill other than what is existing in the manager’s amendment but discussions are ongoing as we speak to what type of amendments could possibly be modified,” Meadows said. “We’re willing to jump through unbelievable hurdles to hopefully get to a point where this bill is better for the American people.”

The manager’s amendment was an attempt by leadership to appease some concerns moderate and conservative members had with the existing bill that repeals much of the 2010 health care law. But even after the proposed changes, the list of “no” votes grew.

Members leaving a caucus meeting Wednesday night declined to discuss details of an agreement with the White House saying they didn’t have it yet.

Texas Rep. Randy Weber said it was apparent that the president was “moving our way” but would not commit to how he would vote on any new proposals.

President Donald Trump is advocating for House GOP leaders to add a provision repealing or relaxing the 2010 health law’s so-called “essential health benefit” requirements to the party’s health care overhaul, an effort aimed at winning over conservatives demanding that change as the price for their votes.

Meadows said Trump called him within the last few hours, interrupting a meeting he was having with Freedom Caucus members. He declined to detail the conversation. 

“This is Washington D.C. so the odds are never great,” Meadows said when asked what the odds are of a deal coming together in the next 24 hours. 

Erin Merson contributed to this report.