Interviews

Rep. Mark Walker on health bill: This is about the cause

Republican Study Committee chairman speaks out about delaying the health care vote

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 23, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, we have another stakeout cam for you.

Who said we will miss an opportunity to get anyone live coming in or out of a building? This is for that moderate group of Republicans who are going to be powwowing with the president in the next 15 minutes or so.

We're still waiting on Capitol Hill for that empty podium shot that you can see live now, where Speaker Paul Ryan delayed indefinitely meeting with reporters. Shortly afterwards, we kind of found out why. They shelved the vote on this health care rework, re-fix, repeal, whatever you want to call it, until at least tomorrow.

And now we're getting indications from my next guest that Republicans are being told not to fly out anywhere, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker.

Congressman, good to have you here.

REP. MARK WALKER, R-NORTH CAROLINA: Hey, Neil. Thank you.

CAVUTO: So, sir, what have been told? Don't go away this weekend? Is that it?

WALKER: What we have been seeing for the -- what we have been told specifically from leadership is to make sure that we're staying close.

We're certainly working, continuing to work hard to make this process come see through fruition. That's something that we're working on right now. And there are multiple meetings going on. We have been back and forth with the speaker. I know the Tuesday Group is meeting, as well as the Freedom Caucus.

CAVUTO: All right, now, this Tuesday Group is a largely moderate group of Republicans. Right?

WALKER: Yes. Right.

CAVUTO: The caucus is more conservative. The battle royal always seems to what you do for one ticks off the other, right?

WALKER: Well, second law of thermodynamics, absolutely.

CAVUTO: Yes. Well, thermodynamics is a good analogy, I guess.

But the one thing I don't understand, sir, it's like, what you do. What is the plan? Obviously, you have got to vote on something, or do you just delay indefinitely? The talk is, tomorrow, you are going to try to vote on something. Is that true?

WALKER: Absolutely.

We're excited about bringing this vote for the floor. This is something that has been in the works for months. The president has asked for it.

CAVUTO: Well, you were supposed to do that today, right? And it didn't happen.

WALKER: Well, we have.

But, listen, this is an open process. It's not a bad thing to continue to iron out these details. The RSC was the first one to have a shot over the bow. We met with the White House six weeks. We didn't call the press when we did it.

But we also were the first one to lay down really a huge stack pole, saying that we couldn't support the first draft.

CAVUTO: I see.

WALKER: It was the conservative position.

Now, since then, we have been back and forth. Last Thursday evening, we negotiated with the White House. It was the first time President Trump said that he's 100 percent behind the bill, some of the things that we were able to ascertain in that meeting, actually the night before, and then at the Oval Office last Friday.

CAVUTO: Congressman, has anyone said, do it for the Gipper or do it for Trump, it's his first big statement as president here, and that, if he loses this, it looks bad on him, it looks bad on you guys?

WALKER: Well, there's a lot of Ronald Reagan quotes going around. I'm not sure that one has been utilized yet.

But there is a moment here. This is 60 days into the presidency. What we don't want to do is hand a huge defeat on something that repeals all the ObamaCare taxes. It repeals the mandates, both employer-based, as well as individuals. It gets rid of Planned Parenthood for the next fiscal year.

But also it's the biggest Medicaid reform in 52 years, close to $900 billion. We think those are good things in step one of these three steps to get it over to the Senate and begin to craft and work this.

Vice President Pence has been instrumental in this process as well. We want to make sure that we're supporting these guys.

CAVUTO: Do you feel that if a vote doesn't come tomorrow and it's potentially delayed until next week, that it's really not coming at all?

WALKER: I would be concerned the longer we wait that this thing begin to fizzle a little bit. You have more people with more ideas.

Sometimes, it seems like the goalposts have moved a time or two already on concessions that have been made. The RSC has been lock solid with our asks from the very beginning. We have got the block grants options added, as well as the optional work requirements. Those are things that are important to the conservative members here in the House. And RSC has been happy to lead on those issues.

CAVUTO: You're talking about the Republican Study Committee.

WALKER: Yes.

CAVUTO: But as we wait for this group, this moderate group, this Tuesday Group to visit the president, what does he say when he meets with everybody?

WALKER: Well, he's very charming.

You get a picture. He wants to get a picture with you. We were able to sit next to him the last week. And he was very gracious that we had worked the process behind the scenes for most of the -- or actually throughout the evening the night before.

We're not about creating histrionics. To us, this is about the cause.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman. I know you have been a busy guy. We do appreciate your taking the time.

WALKER: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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