The Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives may have extended the life of the Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress by opposing the Obamacare replacement bill backed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and President Donald Trump in March.
Freedom Caucus members accurately represented the will of the majority of their constituents by opposing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and prompting Ryan to cancel a vote on the bill on March 24, according to a March 28 analysis by the political analytics firm WPA Intelligence (WPAI). Majorities in key Senate districts also opposed AHCA. A revised version passed through the House on May 4 with Freedom Caucus support.
“Just as critical to the political landscape is the impact non-passage of AHCA may have on GOP effort to maintain control of the Senate,” the report states. “In each of the Senate’s potentially competitive races in 2018, the AHCA was opposed by majorities.”
Trump had predicted House Republicans would lose seats in the 2018 midterm election if they failed to pass the version of AHCA proposed in March. House Republicans have a 238 to 193 majority over Democrats. Republicans hold the Senate over Democrats, 52 to 48.
By the Numbers
WPAI CEO Chris Wilson, a former presidential campaign staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), says majorities of people in districts represented by Freedom Caucus members favored full repeal or retention of Obamacare over AHCA.
“While full repeal and replace of Obamacare has overwhelming support in these districts, even keeping Obamacare intact was more popular than the AHCA [emphasis in original], often by more than a two-to-one margin,” the report stated.
For example, in House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows’ (R-NC) district, 287,309 constituents supported repeal and replacement of Obamacare, 235,841 supported keeping Obamacare, and 161,426 supported AHCA.
In former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) district, 244,571 constituents supported repeal and replacement, 226,388 supported keeping Obamacare, and 147,591 supported ACHA.
Meadows says the failed version of AHCA would have amounted to a broken campaign promise.
“It’s no surprise the original AHCA only garnered 17 percent support,” Meadows told Health Care News. “It did not follow through on the promises Republicans ran on.”
An amended version of AHCA passed the House with Freedom Caucus support on May 4. The bill remains under consideration in the Senate, which could write its own bill instead of voting on AHCA.
Congress has a mandate from voters to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with legislation appreciably different from Obamacare, Meadows says.
“The American people have been abundantly clear that they want the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced,” Meadows said. “They’ve propelled Republicans to victory based on that promise, and now, Members of Congress need to follow through.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Chris Wilson, “Analytics shows HFC saved GOP on Health Care,” Medium, March 28, 2017: https://medium.com/@WilsonWPA/analytics-shows-hcf-saved-gop-on-health-care-cb28c804dbab
Michael T. Hamilton, “Health Care Reform Hinges on Waiver Criteria in Rumored White House Bill,” Consumer Power Report, The Heartland Institute, April 4, 2017: https://heartland.org/news-opinion/news/health-care-reform-hinges-on-waiver-criteria-in-rumored-white-house-bill