Longtime Republican strategist Karl Rove pushed back against intraparty critics of the House bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, arguing it's the compromise that has the best chance of making it to President Trump's desk.
Responding to criticism from House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who said last week on Fox News that the GOP wanted to "dupe" the American people with a watered-down bill, Rove pointed to the need to leverage Senate rules to avoid a filibuster by Democrats.
Republicans plan to pass the first phase of their plan using reconciliation, a procedure that limits the scope of bills but eliminates the possibility for a filibuster in the Senate.
"If he thinks he's got eight Democrats in his back pocket waiting to vote for this in the Senate, all he's got to do is tell us that," Rove added.
A handful of more conservative lawmakers have backed away from the GOP bill being pushed by House leadership, arguing that it's not enough. They are concerned that the replacement of the individual mandate with tax credits creates a new entitlement and rolling back the Medicaid expansion is too long-delayed.
That's prompted some members of the Senate, including Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonCotton: House 'moved a bit too fast' on healthcare Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE (R-Ark.), to caution against passing the bill as-is, or else it could fail in the Senate.
But Rove argued that the new bill accomplishes some of the biggest agenda items for Republicans: the repeal of the employer mandate and the individual mandate. And he argued that it's up to both bodies of Congress to hash out differences during a conference committee, not for the House to acquiesce to the Senate's will immediately.
"When he was in the House, I think the last thing he'd want a senator to tell him is that the House has to right a bill that will pass the Senate. It's up for the Senate to figure out what bill will pass the Senate," Rove said of Cotton.
"The idea that the House has a responsibility to pass a bill that meets the Senate's objections right from the get-go, that's unrealistic and unusual."