During the frenzied attempt to push a bill through the House to replace Obamacare, one behind the scenes account claimed House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., got down on one knee and begged a representative to vote for the plan.
On Thursday night, according to The Washington Post, Ryan, President Donald Trump, and budge director Mick Mulvaney tried to convince GOP lawmakers into siding with the president.
Trump at one point told a group of trucking executives that he had to limit his time with them because of the upcoming vote on the healthcare bill.
“I’m not going to make it too long, because I have to get votes,” Trump said.
“I don’t want to spend too much time with you,” the president joked. “I’m going to lose by one vote, and then I’m going to blame the truckers.”
There was no joking, however on Capitol Hill, where the spirit of insurrection had taken hold among Republican opposed to the bill.
The Post recounted that a group of GOP lawmakers burst into one meeting declaring, “Burn the ships,” a command explorer Hernan Cortes gave in 1519 when his men reached Mexico.
The message was interpreted to mean there was no turning back.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., later said, “Only way to do it.”
Ryan was witnessed on one knee speaking to Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.
The effort to gather votes involved “back-patting and butt-kicking,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. “Democracy’s messy.”
In the end, no tactics dented the resolve of House Freedom Caucus members to oppose the bill.
“If you are defined by your opposition to leadership, it’s hard to be part of a governing coalition,” said Alex Conant, a onetime aide to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“Their opposition to Trump’s healthcare bill should surprise nobody who’s paid attention for the last six years. Even the world’s best negotiator can’t make a deal with someone who never compromises,” Conant said.
The collapse of the House GOP plan left some saying that those on the far right should be ignored in the future.
“I believe we should have more attention paid to the centrists in both parties,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. “Instead of showing all this attention to three or four people who never vote for anything, let’s do an American health plan, not a Republican or Democrat one.”
Ryan, however, painted the episode as a milepost on the way to the party’s new identity.
“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” Ryan said, noting that the GOP was not a “governing party.”
“We will get there,” Ryan said, “but we weren’t there today.”
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