Freedom Caucus Leader Brat Predicts Health Care Passage Within Weeks

Rep. Dave Brat, one of the conservative Freedom Caucus leaders whose resistance helped undermine the Republican health care proposal last month, says White House and congressional negotiators are close to a compromise that he predicts will pass the House in the next three weeks.

“Within a few weeks, I think D.C. is going to be a little bit shocked,” he said in an interview with Capital Download. “We’re going to get to yes.”

One reason: The consequences of not getting to yes could be catastrophic for Republicans, who have been promising for seven years to repeal President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act. “A huge brawl” would follow failure to act, he warns, outraging Republican constituents who expect them to deliver.

He notes that GOP members of Congress already are being blasted at local town-hall meetings by Democratic constituents outraged by President Trump’s election.

“The new guys on the block are showing up in an environment now where we’re having these town halls, and we’re getting just annihilated, right?” Brat said in an interview in his district office, outside Richmond. He was heckled and booed at a town hall in February; he’s not holding any during this congressional break.

“The Democrats are showing up: The ‘Indivisible’ group, the ‘Resist’ group,” he said. “They said, ‘We’re upset.’ They said, ‘We were asleep; we thought Hillary was going to get in. We’re ticked off, so we’re going to take it out on you.’”

Brat, 52, knows something about the power of political anger. He scored a historic upset in 2014, defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary. It was a victory that presaged some of the upheavals that would propel Trump’s election two years later.

The health-care deal being negotiated by Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and others would enable states to opt out of two insurance requirements that Obamacare advocates see as fundamental. One is community rating, which requires insurers to charge the same price to people who are the same age. The other is defining minimum benefits that a plan must cover.

‘That’s the conservative principle, right?” Brat said. “Fifty laboratories, 50 experiments going on simultaneously where you can see what works and what doesn’t work.”

But critics say doing away with community ratings means insurers would be able to charge much higher premiums to those with serious health problems, making it impossible for them to afford coverage. They say eliminating what’s known as essential health benefits could lead to coverage of little value when people actually get sick and need treatment.

Brat argues it meets free-market principles and will reduce health-care costs for most Americans. And he says even the Senate, where to pass a bill Republicans can afford to lose only two votes, is likely to act as well. “This isn’t about Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, right, and your community leaders,” he said. “This is the big time, with trillions of dollars at stake. They’ll be a war; there always is. Somebody will get thrown under the bus — usually people with principles. But this is a win-win, and the Senate, there’s going to be pressure on the Senate, too.”

Some of that pressure is going to come from Trump, he said, who has threatened Freedom Caucus members in tweets and called Brat at home to lobby for the original proposal. “He wants to pass this thing, so he’s putting a little heat on us,” Brat said. “He’s fun that way.”


When Trump called, Brat said he had “a New York field day on the phone.” Which means, he explained: “It was loud.”

Source Link