Freedom Caucus Chair: ‘This Is Not the End of the Debate’

By Susan Jones | March 27, 2017 | 5:41 AM EDT

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. speaks with the media on Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 23, 2017, following a Freedom Caucus meeting. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( – Republicans were unable to pass their repeal-and-partially-replace bill last week, but it’s too early to call defeat, said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus.

He told ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos that Democrats should not be applauding because “conversations over the last 48 hours are really about how we come together in the Republican conference and try to get this over the finish line.”

Meadows noted that the bill tabled on Friday was not in final form. The Senate would have changed it and sent it back to the House:

“And so as we look at this today, this is not the end of the debate. This is like, I had one of my friends call me the other day. He says it's like saying that Tom Brady lost at half time. We're not -- we may be in overtime, but I can tell you at the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be President Trump on this, because he will deliver. He's committed to the American people. And we're committed to helping get there.”

Meadows said the focus of conservatives remains the same: “What we're looking at here is trying to make sure that we do one thing: get premiums down for all Americans.”

He also said it’s “incumbent” on conservatives and moderates to “come together, hopefully in the coming days, to find consensus, to present something to the president that certainly not only gets him 216 votes, but hopefully 235 votes.”

Meadows praised President Trump for doing more in 65 days “than any president in modern history,” and he said he plans to help Trump with tax reform, which is the president’s next priority.

“I fully expect that what we're going to see is not only real tax reform, but other measures that come along. And I still believe that there is a good chance, if moderates and conservatives can come together, that we repeal and replace Obamacare, bring premiums down, cover more people…”

Meadows said conservatives may not insist that Trump’s tax cuts must be fully paid for with other spending cuts or revenue increases:

“I think there has been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts and conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset. And that's a move that we're trying to do to provide real relief and economic growth.

“When we start to grow the economy at 4, 4.1 percent, it actually not only increases wages, but it puts more money in Americans' pockets each and every day.

“And so, tax reform and lowering taxes, you know, will create and generate more income. And so we're looking at those, where the fine balance is. But does it have to be fully offset? My personal response is no.”

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