Rep. Ted Poe explained on Monday why he resigned from the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservative lawmakers who helped block President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s healthcare bill.
Poe said on CNN’s “New Day” that the conservative caucus “continues to be the opposition caucus against anything in the Republican Party.”
The Texas congressman said that while Republican leadership had attempted to ignore the concerns of its most conservative members in the past, caucus members were key players in the negotiation of the American Health Care Act, which Trump and Ryan pulled before a scheduled vote in the House on Friday.
“There’s nothing that could be added to the bill that the Freedom Caucus would ever vote yes on,” Poe said. “I got the opinion that there are some members of the Freedom Caucus – they’d vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote.”
Poe said that although the AHCA was “not a perfect bill,” Republicans “promised for years” that they would repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, if they held the White House.
“We voted 60 times to repeal Obamacare,” Poe said. “Then when it came down to repealing it, when it actually counted, people just said, ‘Nah, I’m not going to vote to repeal the bill.'”
Republican leaders had made a large concession to House Freedom Caucus members by altering the ACA’s so-called essential health benefits, which requires all insurers to cover some services, including hospitalization, basic outpatient care, and emergency room visits. Under the AHCA, states would have decided which services constituted essential health benefits.
The move placated only a few conservative members, while some moderate Republicans said they could not support the bill. The bill was pulled when it became clear there were not enough votes to pass it.
Trump has cast blame on the House Freedom Caucus for the bill’s failure. In a tweet on Sunday, the president slammed the caucus and the right-leaning Heritage Foundation’s opposition to the bill.
“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” Trump wrote.