- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2017

A national tea party group is supporting the health care bill that President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan are urging lawmaker to pass on Capitol Hill.

Sal Russo, the co-founder and chief strategist of Tea Party Express, which bills itself as the largest tea party political action committee, told Medium that the bill is the “first step in President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

“Admittedly, this is far from a perfect repeal, and no conservative would propose this if it weren’t for the reality of the obstructionist Democrats in the Senate,” Mr. Russo said. “But President Ronald Reagan had the right idea as he faced a Democratic-controlled House throughout his presidency. He would regularly say about working with the Democrats, ‘If they offer you half a loaf, what do you do? You take half a loaf and then you come back for more.’ “

Lacking support for the plan, House GOP leaders postponed a vote on the proposal on Thursday and rescheduled it for Friday after it became clear that the votes were not there on both the left and the right — in particular in the House Freedom Caucus, which has refused to get on board despite pleas from Mr. Ryan and Mr. Trump.

Outside groups such as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth have called on lawmakers to shoot down the bill, arguing that it does not go far enough.

But Mr. Russo said lawmakers should take the victory and move on to other parts of the conservative agenda.

“The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is the first step in President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said in a statement. “Conservatives of every stripe should take this opportunity to support this phase of the process by casting what will be remembered as one of the most consequential conservative votes in decades.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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