House Freedom Caucus Chair Meadows: A Majority of Our Members Are at ‘Yes’
This morning at the Politico “Playbook” interview, Co-Chair Mark Meadows told Politico and the audience that a majority of House Freedom Caucus will vote Yes for the compromise on the essential benefits provision that utilizes high-risk pools to provide for those with pre-existing conditions and deals with Community Rating — once they see the legislative language.
You will hear a lot about “needing to see the language” and “we don’t have the language yet” during this debate. This is not because the House does not have lawyers who can draft the language.
This lack of language comes from the simple reason that there is no consensus on what it will say. It makes a good sound bite to the nation, but to those in D.C., it’s like announcing “we haven’t agreed to what we said we’d agree to because we can’t write the language, because we have not decided what it will say.”
The provision Meadows is talking about is the Palmer/Schweikert amendment authored principally by Reps. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) — House Freedom Caucus members.
House Leadership is apparently moving to add this compromise to the body of the bill and it “will be added to the health-care bill at a Rules Committee meeting” today, according to the Washington Post — before members leave for recess.
This means they have legislative language that everyone can agree to (for now) since any of the bill’s provisions can be amended on the floor by a “manager’s amendment.” This is only done, if necessary, to get the final votes needed. The preference, however, is to do any changes to the bill in the Rules Committee, since any floor vote is seen by current House leadership as a threat, not an opportunity.
Because they are moving to put this amendment in Rules Committee, it means the amendment will, in fact, grow their vote total.
It also indicates the WH or the House Leadership does not believe this is another “Lucy and the football” move by the Freedom Caucus.
“A majority of the House Freedom Caucus” is likely just that (could be as few as 17 or 18 yes votes) because if Meadows was delivering the votes needed to pass the bill, he would have said so, and the bill would now be headed to the House floor.
But since they are not taking it to the floor, it is clear they still do not have the votes they need to pass it.
These are NOT the real vote totals, but this exercise will give you a sense of the thin vote margins on this bill:
With 237 GOP Members and a little less than half the Freedom Caucus at no, this means there could be 14 or 15 Freedom Caucus No votes, and that brings you to 222 or 223 ‘Yes” votes.
A majority in the House is 218 votes, which is what you usually need to pass a bill of this magnitude — since members do not want to try and explain why they missed the vote to their constituents.
In this example (again, this is not the real vote count) of the number of votes the Palmer/Schweikert amendment gives the GOP, it leaves them with a four or five vote margin of error for the entire rest of the GOP House caucus, including the moderate Tuesday Group who have not said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the Palmer/Schweikert amendment.
The fact that Ryan is still using the Rules Committee to control the choices Members have on the bill and the contents of the bill indicate that he is not changing his floor strategy one bit. If Speaker Ryan was going to change his floor strategy, he would have allowed this amendment to come before the House in the form of a floor vote.