OPINION: The House Freedom Caucus owes more to its party

Posted on Mar 29 2017 - 8:00am by Patrick Waters

Last week, the House of Representatives failed to vote on and pass the American Health Care Act, a comprehensive bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare.

During the past fall, elections for offices ranging from president of the United States to state representative were fought over the ramifications of ObamaCare and the promise of Republicans to repeal and replace the law.

After Republicans won power in November, Democrats trembled, fearing that the law was doomed after Jan. 20.

But this week, Democrats are elated.

ObamaCare will survive, at least for the time being. This victory was not caused by Democrats, however.

A rouge group of 30 Republican congressmen, called the House Freedom Caucus, brought this bill down.

It is truly disappointing (and slightly ironic) that this group of Republicans, many who were elected on the basis of repealing and replacing ObamaCare, would ultimately be responsible for it remaining the law of the land for the foreseeable future.

This microcosm of Conservative politics highlights a problem in the Republican party and Conservative movement.

The Freedom Caucus, and some groups like it, make it impossible for Republicans to work together and run an effective government.

Bills that President Donald Trump or Speaker Ryan propose and support are often considered not Conservative enough.

The rest of the party is held hostage while they attempt to make a deal that complies with their rigid ideological standards.

Some members of the Freedom Caucus are already beginning to leave the group. In citing his reasons to leave, Rep. Ted Poe said, “There’s some members of the Freedom Caucus, they’d vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote.”

This is not the way a successful party operates. When the Affordable Care Act was first passed in 2010, Democrats faced opposition within their own party, but from moderate Democrats who were in fear of losing reelection, not those on the left.

Even with the moderate opposition, they were able to get the bill passed. There was no “Progressive Caucus” whose members refused to vote for the Affordable Care Act because it did not contain universal government coverage.

A successful party has consistency. When its leaders (President Trump and Speaker Ryan) announce a plan, these representatives in the House Freedom Caucus should not relentlessly pressure top leadership to accommodate their demands.

Amend it and improve it before it goes to the floor for a vote, yes, but holding the entire party (and because of the severity of the issue, the stock market and the country) hostage is vain and selfish.

No bill or law will be perfect to everyone. That is the point of a democratic system.

There are several more battles to come in the next few weeks and months. Tax reform, a border wall and the federal budget are on the table and are all things President Trump has pledged to accomplish. Republicans owe him their support.

Will the Freedom Caucus support him and stand with the rest of the Republican party and fight and accomplish Conservative values?

I sure hope so.

Patrick Waters is an accounting major from St. Louis.