Republicans not yet ready to abandon health care

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House Speaker Paul Ryan.

(CNN) — Republicans are focused on trying to come together after a major setback last week to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — and they aren’t entirely ready to move on.

Emerging from their first conference meeting since the setback, Republican members said the message from their leadership was direct: it’s time to unify.

“I think it was the longest prayer we’ve ever had,” New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins said, referring to the opening prayer that is part of every conference.

Many members emerging from the Tuesday morning meeting said the GOP wasn’t yet ready to abandon health care despite the fact that President Donald Trump made it clear last week it was time to get on to tax reform.

North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson said if Republicans could find the votes, the House could again bring up last week’s bill as early as this week, noting that the House Freedom Caucus was “probably feeling a lot of heat.”

Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said the message from House Speaker Paul Ryan was “this issue is not going away.”

Members of the hard-right wing of the conference seemed committed to not move on from health care. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters that he and others still wanted to get to “yes.”

“We’re going to get a yes. We’re going get to yes. It will be a better bill. And I think everyone is going to be very happy in the end,” said Virginia Rep. David Brat, a member of the Freedom Caucus.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Republican from Georgia, said every House Republican who went to open mic during the GOP conference meeting pushed to get health care done.

“Everybody wants to get this done,” he told CNN. “We are going to press on.”

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