Mark Meadows: Congress needs to cancel summer vacation if health bill fails
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said the Senate should cancel the rest of its August recess if a planned vote on legislation to repeal Obamacare fails this week.
"Obviously any time you pass anything in the House and it doesn't go anywhere in the Senate, we are used to that," the North Carolina Republican said at the National Press Club Monday.
"This is a unique situation," he added. "A motion to proceed [to start debate on the health bill] and getting something out of the Senate is a must, it is not something we can fail at."
If the bill fails, "what they need to do is make sure that we stay in on August until ultimately the pressure of going home they make some type of compromise," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already has canceled the first two weeks of the month-long August recess. The Senate is now expected to leave after Aug. 11 and not return until after Labor Day.
Meadows brought up the House's own failure to pass a healthcare bill on its first attempt. A bill to partially repeal and replace Obamacare was pulled in March after opposition from centrists and more than a dozen conservative Freedom Caucus members.
However, talks continued and a compromise was reached to get the Freedom Caucus on board. The bill squeaked out of the House at the beginning of May by a 217-213 vote.
"Just like when they put the fork in it and said it was done in the House … we have to stay engaged," Meadows said.
It is not clear which bill McConnell plans to bring up this week. The Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote to start debate on the House health bill Tuesday. If that vote succeeds, the Senate would strip out the House bill and put in a separate bill that would partially repeal and replace Obamacare or put in an updated version of a 2015 bill that would repeal Obamacare but keep it in place for two years while a replacement is crafted