Republicans in the House will head home on Thursday morning for an over two week Easter break without a deal on a GOP health care bill, as lawmakers acknowledged their inability to forge an agreement may foreshadow more difficulties later this year on big pieces of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.
“It just doesn’t bode well for tax reform,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), as the top ally of President Trump in the Congress blasted more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, and openly wondered whether that same group would find a way not to support a Trump tax reform bill.
“The Freedom Caucus is going to pull the same stunt they always pull,” Collins said, accusing conservatives of routinely ‘moving the goalposts’ and rarely rallying behind GOP leaders in Congress on policy.
While Collins was taking aim at the Freedom Caucus, the head of that group was counseling patience, expecting more talks in the weeks ahead.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).
But while Meadows stayed away from name-calling, outside conservative groups were more than happy to take shots at more moderate Republicans and their umbrella organization, the Tuesday Group.
As for the Speaker, he was also trying to take a long view.
“We have been encouraging people to talk to each other,” said Speaker Paul Ryan, who said he wants GOP members to keep looking for ways to come to an agreement.
“We can keep working for weeks,” Ryan told a group from his home state of Wisconsin, as he said there was “breathing room” in the Congressional schedule for such efforts.
The House leaves on Thursday for an extended Easter break, as lawmakers won’t be back in Washington for legislative sessions until April 24.
After that, there are two more break weeks in May, before a busy schedule in the month of June.