Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) made news over the weekend when he announced that he was resigning from the Freedom Caucus. He lamented on CNN that the Freedom Caucus had become the opposition party, not just to the Democrats, but to the Republicans as well.
His frustrations came to a head when the 30-member group of congressional conservatives voted against the American Health Care Act put forward by the GOP leadership.
“The Freedom Caucus has always been the opposition caucus, and – against the Democrats – and now when we are in the majority, it continues to be the opposition caucus against anything in the Republican Party,” Rep. Poe told CNN host Alisyn Camerota.
“And, we had not been included in the past, but we were included in the health care replacement bill. We spent an hour and a half with the President of the United States, the vice president, members of the cabinet, talking and making compromises,” he said. “Compromises were made, things were added to the bill based on the input of the Freedom Caucus. But then at the end of the day, no, it was easier to vote no. And so I am angry about that.”
He added: “I think it’s time that we lead and continue not to say no on anything that takes place when bills come forward in the House of Representatives.”
Camerota asked him, “Since the President did make those concessions to the House Freedom Caucus, what did they want?”
He answered, “Well, there [are] some members I think that wanted…stronger parts of the repeal in the bill. But it would move too far to the right where you wouldn’t get any other Republicans to support it. So it’s a compromise. And I think that there’s nothing that could be added to the bill that the Freedom Caucus would ever vote yes on.”
“And so I got the opinion that there are some members of the Freedom Caucus, they’d vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote.”
He concluded, “I think it’s time the Freedom Caucus work together with other members of the Republican Party, have input – which we did with the Speaker, the President of the United States. And then, at the end of the day, compromise to get something done.”
I do sympathize with Poe. It must be frustrating to finally have the chance to make some dramatic changes only to be met with opposition within your own party.
But this is what voting is all about. He would have voted for the bill. His more conservative colleagues would have voted against it. Obviously, the bill that was presented before them didn’t work. We see the same thing when conservatives decide not to vote for the party’s nominee.
This isn’t anyone’s fault necessarily. The party’s leadership should have worked with their own party in drafting the legislation so that most of them would have voted for it. If they had to do it one piece at a time, they should have done that.
I’m not one who thinks that Washington, D.C. needs more compromise. Coalitions are one thing. But no one should be shamed for not compromising.