A group with close ties to House Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), is airing a half-million dollars’ worth of television ads in more than two dozen media markets urging unruly conservatives to support GOP health-care legislation.
The American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy group affiliated with the Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC, is targeting 30 members it says are part of the House Freedom Caucus — the hard-line conservative group that has threatened to oppose the American Health Care Act over concerns that it does not do enough to roll back former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The ads, set to run for two weeks, make the case that the GOP bill is a true conservative alternative to the ACA, not a watered-down version of it: “Obamacare is full of job-destroying mandates. The new plan eliminates them. Obamacare put bureaucrats in control. The Republicans’ plan puts patients and doctors in charge. Obamacare stuck families with soaring premiums. The new plan provides more choices and lower costs.”
The spot ends with footage of President Trump telling Congress to “repeal and replace Obamacare” in his recent joint session address and asks viewers to tell their congressman to “vote with President Trump.”
“It’s time for conservatives to unite behind President Trump and Speaker Ryan to pass the American Health Care Act,” Corry Bliss, AAN’s executive director, said in a statement. “This bill gives conservatives the opportunity to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace the disaster that is Obamacare.”
It is not AAN’s first foray into advocating for a Republican health-care plan, but earlier rounds of ads targeted a variety of members — including positive spots that thanked several who are considered close leadership allies for supporting efforts to make good on Trump’s campaign promises.
The new ads are largely focused on the bill’s critics — though a few members, such as Reps. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), sit on the committees that drafted the health-care measure. It’s the first time the AAN has targeted hard-line conservatives under Ryan, but the group became a flash point during the tenure of former House speaker John A. Boehner.
When the group aired ads in Freedom Caucus districts in 2015 urging members to back leadership, that was added to a litany of complaints about Boehner’s leadership that ultimately led to Boehner’s resignation later that year.
The Freedom Caucus does not publish a formal list of members, but most of the 30 lawmakers targeted have said that they are part of the group.