Three months into the new Congress, some Republicans are fearful that their failure to repeal ObamaCare could spell doom for the rest of President Trump’s legislative agenda.
Some Capitol Hill Republicans have envisioned the nightmare scenario for 2017, and it goes like this: No ObamaCare repeal. No tax reform. No trillion-dollar infrastructure package. No border wall.
It’s a striking change from the period after Election Day, when GOP leaders vowed that the new unified Republican government would “go big, go bold” and deliver for the American people.
While many Republicans hold out hope the ObamaCare repeal bill will be revived, skeptics say the GOP infighting during last month’s healthcare collapse may have poisoned the well for future big-ticket legislative deals.
“I don’t see how you put a coalition together to deal with tax reform,” said one House Republican who is close to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his leadership team. “Unless we can bridge this divide and get a win on the board, I don’t know how we pull the other things together, all the other big things we gotta do.”
Despite some signs of life, healthcare talks between the White House and centrist and conservative holdouts did not result in a deal before Congress began a two-week April recess.
And the recriminations among Republicans only seem to be getting nastier.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, “is a pathological liar who isn’t interested in getting to yes,” one House GOP colleague of Meadows told The Hill in a fit of frustration over the stalled health negotiations.
But Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a fellow Freedom Caucus leader, defended Meadows as “a man of great integrity.” “When members of Congress resort to personal attacks while hiding behind anonymity,” Labrador said, “it’s usually because their position is weak in the first place and they are getting heat back home for not keeping the promises that they made to their constituents.”
At a town hall in Cedar Springs, Mich., GOP Rep. Justin Amash, another Meadows ally, hurled blame at the feet of Ryan: Republicans need “either a change in direction from this Speaker, or we need a new Speaker.”
“I don’t know that the Lord himself could unite our caucus,” veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) told The Associated Press.
Late last month, when Ryan realized he was short of the votes and yanked the health insurance bill off the floor, he and Trump insisted they were moving on to tax reform.
But within days, they had returned to the healthcare legislation.
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SOURCE: SCOTT WONG