WASHINGTON -- Unswayed by President Donald Trump's appeal on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford said he still believes the proposed American Health Care Act is bad legislation that would harm the country.
"As it stands right now, I'm going to vote against it," the Republican from Jonesboro said. "I can't see changing my vote to yes at this point."
Crawford, the only House member from Arkansas who plans to vote no, said the health care package will prove costly.
"When we're $20 trillion in debt, and we're facing interest rate increases, I don't want to engage in another [entitlement] program that exacerbates that problem," he said. "Big government under Republicans vs. big government under Democrats is still big government."
During his meeting Tuesday, Trump warned House Republicans that there may be political consequences if they vote against the legislation.
Crawford portrayed it as a friendly warning, rather than a threat.
"He is expressing his concern that he doesn't want members to face a primary challenge if they don't need to and, you know, we all have that concern," Crawford said. "I'm just going to say that I appreciate the concern and I think it's genuine and I don't read anything any further than that."
Crawford's three colleagues from Arkansas -- all Republicans -- support the legislation.
"I think it's a good first step in the health care repeal and replacement process," said U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock, noting that the Senate will make refinements. The end result will be a "more market-based, patient-centered health care approach," he said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers said the legislation is evolving and improving along the way. "There's a lot of tweaking that will take place. This is the first step in the process, so I'm happy that we're about to start down the road."
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs said he'll support the measure in Thursday's vote, adding, "I'm excited to get something to the Senate."
He said he's pleased that the bill includes a Medicaid block grant option for the states and that it would allow states to require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or get job training.
While the legislation can still be improved, "it's way better than Obamacare. It's more patient-centered and market-focused," he added.
A Section on 03/22/2017