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Key House Health Care Negotiator Splits From Fellow Moderates

A key player in passing the GOP health care bill in the House has split with fellow moderates after a compromise he helped develop left him alienated.
Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., participates in the House Financial Services Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.
Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., participates in the House Financial Services Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP Images

A key player in the passage of the Republican health care bill earlier this month has split with fellow moderates after the compromise he helped broker left him alienated from some colleagues. Rep. Tom MacArthur announced Tuesday that he has resigned his position as co-chair of the Tuesday Group after divisions flared over the legislation.

The New Jersey Republican notified the group of his resignation during their weekly meeting earlier today, distributing a letter that explained his decision and his frustrations with fellow members.

"While some embraced my efforts as co-chairman, others have bristled. Clearly, our group is divided. Many in the Tuesday Group are eager to live up to our ideal of being problem-solvers, while others seem unwilling to compromise. The recent healthcare debate was illustrative," MacArthur wrote in the letter to his colleagues.

MacArthur came under fire from some in the 54-member group for playing an instrumental role in reviving the failed Republican health care bill, the American Health Care Act. He worked on a compromise with his conservative colleague, Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus which includes nearly 40 of the most ardent conservatives in the House.

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The amendment, which gutted protections for health insurance consumers and raised concerns that those with pre-existing conditions could be charged much more for coverage, helped to deliver enough votes to pass the measure in the House — by just one more vote than needed.

"It’s clear that some in the Tuesday Group have different objectives and a different sense of governing than I do," MacArthur wrote in his letter. "Effective immediately, I resign as co-chair of the Tuesday Group."

Of the 20 Republicans who voted against the health care bill in the House earlier this month, most are moderates and members of the Tuesday Group. They are also some of the Republicans most at risk of losing their re-election in 2018.

During the debate over health care, some Tuesday Group members expressed frustration with MacArthur, including fellow co-chair Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania who said that no one wanted anyone negotiating on their behalf.

"Tom is a friend and a colleague, and I respect his decision to step down as co-chair of Tuesday Group," Dent said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "One of the most important aspects of Tuesday Group is that it is a member-led and member-driven organization. I look forward to continuing to work with co-chair Elise Stefanik to ensure that the voices and priorities of the Tuesday Group members are advanced."