Washington (CNN)Conservative lawmakers emerged from a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday optimistic he may be willing to move the House's bill to repeal and replace Obamacare in their direction.
Conservatives: Pence helping to change House health care bill
The Republican Study Committee wants to move up the phase out of the Medicaid-expansion to January 2018 as well as looking to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults into a manager's amendment in the House Rules Committee. The chairman of the RSC, North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker told reporters he believed Pence was open to the idea.
"Ultimately we were told today that we should be hopeful as far as potentially having some of this incorporated into this bigger bill," Walker said.
"The vice president was gracious enough to spend close to 40 minutes with us, took all the questions that he had time for from the members, and I think most guys would have to walk away feeling optimistic about the process," Walker said.
During the meeting, members said that Pence spoke briefly and then offered members the floor to ask questions and voice concerns. Walker passed around handouts for members listing the changes they wanted.
Listed on the card were the Medicaid changes as well as a request to make sure that "all Obamacare taxes are repealed as soon as possible" and that "tax credits are fiscally responsible and promote work."
The RSC's meeting with Pence came as Republican leaders are trying to cobble together enough support to pass their bill through Congress and get to 216 votes. Making the kinds of changes to the bill that the RSC is asking for may help garner conservative support, but it could also endanger the bill's prospects with more moderate members some of whom have already come out against the current draft of the bill because it's not generous enough to low-income Americans.
"For every action it creates an equal and opposite reaction. Sure, some of that is going to be able to be moved back and forth. But I believe there is still enough middle ground, enough breathing space that it keeps everybody on board in the asks that we have made," Walker said.
Many members emerging from the RSC meeting dismissed any insinuation that the legislation was coming off the rails in the House, arguing instead that this was an ongoing negotiation.
Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Indiana, who said he supported the bill at markup also stressed after meeting with Pence that "we've got a ways to go" and said Pence told them to "let the legislative process work."
"It was a kind of a pep talk about being supportive from the administration's perspective," Bucshon said.
Deputy House whip Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, emerged from the meeting saying that things were still being negotiated, but he was optimistic about the progress. He confirmed that the House leaders were continuing to whip the bill.
"I feel good about where we are and things are coming together very nicely," McHenry said.