by Max Brantley
The uncertainty is bothering some lawmakers, who are scheduled to return home to their districts this Friday and face their constituents.A meeting with the president Tuesday night produced no deal, though there was talk of some "crumbs" for states in the form of waivers on existing Medicaid rules. (Gov. Asa Hutchinson is counting on this to put a gloss on his continuation of the Medicaid expansion.)
"It's not the best spot to be in," Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) told TPM. "We are the governing majority and they kind of expect us to say, 'This is what we plan to do.' It will be reasonable and understandable if my constituents demonstrate a level of frustration when I come back."
Womack expressed his own frustration that the Trump administration has focused mainly on negotiating with lawmakers who came out against the bill the first time around. Vice President Mike Pence, for instance, huddled with the Freedom Caucus on Monday night to pitch the idea of the EHB waivers. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney joined a meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon with leaders from both the Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group to gauge the potential for a deal.
"No one has come up to me and said, 'Hey, how can we make this thing better for you,'" complained Womack.
Asked if the administration was pandering too much to the Freedom Caucus, Womack said: "There's a limit to how much that can take place before you start sending the message that if you really want something, whip no or undecided, and then they'll come to you. I don't like playing that game."
"He's an artful negotiator. But negotiating in the civilian, business world is much different than negotiating with this establishment," Womack said. "He's learning that."