Speed Reads

health care

The Freedom Caucus is bypassing Paul Ryan with its health-care concerns — and going straight to Stephen Bannon

Frustrated Freedom Caucus members are not turning to House Republican leadership with their concerns about the GOP's proposed health-care replacement, Politico reports. Instead, they're gambling on Stephen Bannon's influence over President Trump and going straight to their sympathizers in the West Wing.

Freedom Caucus members would rather start with the repeal of ObamaCare and formulate the replacement later. Members are also upset about House Speaker Paul Ryan's reliance on health-care tax credits and have slammed his bill as "Obamacare-Lite."

But while Ryan's allies argue he is working to incorporate as much conservative input as possible, some members of the House feel ignored and are bypassing the traditional channels for negotiating. It's a risky move, Politico notes: "The Freedom Caucus' unwillingness to go along with GOP leaders could backfire if Trump loses his patience. The president carried most of its members' districts by wide margins. If he turns against them — blaming them for the bill's failure — the hard-liners could find themselves in a precarious spot in the 2018 midterms."

The Freedom Caucus has gone as far as to begin constructing its own deal with moderates, without first consulting Ryan or other GOP leaders. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows even admitted that with the exception of a single conversation with Majority Whip Steve Scalise, he has not spoken to Republican leaders in two weeks but talks to the White House almost every day. A senior administration official confirmed that "we opened up a direct channel to get the real issues on the table" with Meadows and other Freedom Caucus leaders. Bannon also reportedly wants the far-right Freedom Caucus to be involved in the formation of the bill.

Meadows has already put in a list of "improvements" to the White House.