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Moderates Dismiss Heritage Action ‘Cheap Shot’

Conservative group missive targeted Tuesday Group on health care

New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins said Heritage Action had little impact on the majority of the GOP conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins said Heritage Action had little impact on the majority of the GOP conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Several House Republicans blew off an attack by Heritage Action Wednesday that blamed the moderate arm of the GOP for stalling negotiations to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

The conservative group blasted members of the Tuesday Group for opposing talks “not based on policy, [but] because they don’t want to repeal Obamacare.” Heritage Action also suggested it might work to oppose those members running for re-election in 2018, but didn’t announce any ad buys.

Some lawmakers laughed it off.

“We view them as fundraising-first. Policy doesn’t matter,” Rep. Chris Collins of New York said. “They have such little influence today. For them to suggest otherwise is laughable.”

Collins, a member of the Tuesday Group and strong surrogate for President Donald Trump, went further, calling the organization a “non-entity” that has “lost all credibility within our conference.”

Moderate Republicans, including Tuesday Group Co-chairman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, have opposed several aspects to the GOP leadership’s stalled health care plan, including a proposal to take away certain essential health benefits insurance company must provide under the current law.

Republicans failed to muster enough support on to advance their health care plan and pulled it from the floor on March 24.

Negotiations have continued on a package. But several members of the GOP, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, said it was “very unlikely” the chamber would cast its ballot before the chamber went into recess scheduled for Thursday. 

Dent called the Heritage Action attack a “gratuitous cheap shot.”

“These groups aren’t exactly consistent in their beliefs,” Dent said. “There are legitimate policy concerns and objections to the bill.”

North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, the chamber’s chief deputy whip, said members were responding to the needs of their constituency — from moderate to conservatives in safe and competitive areas — and basing their decisions on the experience and stories they hear from people back home.

“This is a sideshow between interest groups on the outside, not essential to the debate internally,” McHenry said.

Republican Rep. Tom Reed said the GOP was still working on smoothing out differences.

“To somehow try to transfer this obstructionism to us as governing members to me is just a sign that maybe they may have overplayed their hand and I think they’re feeling the ramifications of that,” Reed said.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, another co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, disagreed that moderate Republicans were not willing to work together with conservatives.

“It’s not true, we’ve been trying to be constructive,” the New Jersey Republican said.

Lindsey McPherson, Erin Mershon  and Andrew Siddons contributed to this report.

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