WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the leaders of the moderate Republican “Tuesday Group” in the U.S. House of Representatives resigned as co-chairman on Tuesday, citing divisions over efforts to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system.
Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey told group members during a weekly meeting he was stepping down in the wake of efforts to repeal and replace Democratic former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
“During efforts to reform our healthcare system, I worked with many in the Tuesday Group towards a real solution that would protect the most vulnerable among us, while driving down healthcare costs,” MacArthur said in prepared remarks reviewed by Reuters.
“That being said, it’s clear that some in the Tuesday Group have different objectives and a different sense of governing than I do,” he added.
MacArthur could not be reached immediately for comment.
MacArthur said more than half of the Republican “no” votes for the House’s Obamacare replacement legislation came from Tuesday Group members.
He called the group’s inability to come together on healthcare a “non-starter” and said it had become clear that some members of the group had different objectives and would prefer a different leader.
MacArthur authored an amendment that helped Republican leaders in the House earlier this month pass the American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace much of Obamacare.
His amendment would allow states to apply for waivers so they could opt out of some Obamacare requirements, including one of the law’s most popular provisions that prohibit insurers from charging more to individuals with pre-existing conditions.
MacArthur’s amendment brought members of the conservative Freedom Caucus on board to support the bill. Tuesday Group members, however, complained they had not been consulted ahead of time. Some criticized it as a departure from what they wanted to see in the healthcare package.
MacArthur will remain a member of the Tuesday Group after resigning from its leadership, website Politico reported.
“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 said in his prepared remarks.
Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by James Dalgleish and Jeffrey Benkoe