The latest version of the Senate Obamacare repeal bill is set to be unveiled on Thursday, and it looks like Republicans are even further away from 50 votes than they were before the July 4 recess. President Trump tried to help the process along on Wednesday by warning that he’ll be “very angry” if the Senate fails to pass the bill.
“I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand, waiting for our senators to give it to me,” Trump told CBN News. “It has to get passed. They have to do it. They have to get together and get it done.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced earlier this week that he was canceling half of the August recess to get the bill done, delaying the start date from July 28 to August 11. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told his conference on Wednesday morning that if the Senate passes the bill, he may call them back to Washington to vote for it — but he’s not betting their summer vacation on it.
“We will continue to do our work here, and we hope the Senate continues to do their work as we move forward,” McCarthy said. He held a chart showing that 226 House-passed bills are awaiting Senate action, according to the Washington Post, sending the message that the House has done its work and now it’s on the Senate to catch up.
But in a bad sign for House Republican unity, members of the conservative Freedom Caucus are loudly demanding that members of Congress stay in D.C. too. “If we don’t have results, we shouldn’t have a recess,” said Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows.
Their goal for August is incredibly ambitious. Meadows said they want an increase in the debt limit, an agreement on a tax overhaul, and an Obamacare repeal bill signed into law by Trump.
Politico reports that some fellow House Republicans are grumbling that the Freedom Caucus is just grandstanding. Aside from the fact that those are incredibly complex issues to solve in a matter of weeks, they say the Senate should lead the debt-ceiling and budget deals because those measures will require eight Senate Democrats to pass. The need to make deals with Democrats means GOP leaders will probably cut the conservatives out of the process — unless the Freedom Caucus can find a way to force the leadership to include them.
“If there’s a chance of coming up with a work product that we could vote on, that would be worth it,” said Representative Joe Barton of the Freedom Caucus’s demands to cancel summer vacation. “But if it’s just being done for optical purposes, it really hurts the families.”