‘Time to send them home,’ GOP’s Meadows says of wavering Republicans

Rep. Mark Meadows was an enthusiastic opening act for President Donald Trump Friday, echoing the president’s disdain for athletes who protest during the national anthem and sharing his eagerness to drain the Washington political swamp.

Even if that meant some of Meadows’ Republican congressional colleagues.

“It is time that we drain the swamp, right?” the western North Carolina Republican asked the crowd at the Value Voters Summit in Washington.

“Well, that includes every single member of the House and Senate. If they’re not willing to do what they promised on their campaign trail, it’s time to send them home,” he said.

Meadows used gun analogies to stress his point.

“Occasionally, you pull the trigger, and it’s a dud,” he said. “You have two options: You can leave that in the chamber and pull the trigger again and again to see if it fires. Or you can eject it and put in another shell. I would suggest that we have some members that are duds that have been left in the chamber too long.”

Meadows, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, embraced several of Trump’s stances as he spoke just before the president took the stage at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington.

“There are times when you don’t make political statements…there are times when we’re sending troops and welcoming them home that you don’t make political statements,” Meadows said. “And I would suggest, that you don’t take a knee when there’s (a flag) flying out there.”

Trump has taken on National Football League players and other athletes who have taken knees or staged other silent protest during the playing of the national anthem at games.

At Thursday night’s football game between the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles in Charlotte, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins stood for the anthem with his fist raised in the air, as he has done all season, joined by safety Rodney McLeod. Eagles defensive end Chris Long placed his hand on McLeod’s shoulder. No Panthers players engaged in protests.

In tweets and speeches, Trump has called the football protests disrespectful to the American flag and the U.S. military.

The athletes say they are highlighting what they feel is unequal treatment of African Americans and other minorities, particularly by law enforcement, and that dropping to one knee or raising a fist during the anthem has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag or dishonoring U.S. troops.

Meadows urged a ballroom filled with faith-based voters to pray and support members of Congress who share their values. And he urged them to vote against those who don’t share their values or stand in the way of the conservative agenda pushed by Trump and the Freedom Caucus.

He implored the audience to agitate for the Republican-controlled Senate to do away with its 60-vote rule to get most bills on the floor and switch to a system that would make it easier to move ahead with 51 votes. Several frustrated House Republicans blame Senate rules from fulfilling their campaign promise to repeal and replace the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.

The Senate currently has 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats.

“It is time that we get rid of the 60-vote cloture rule in the Senate and start ruling like a majority,” he said. “I’m for no more excuses.”

Trump acknowledged Friday that the Senate was an obstacle to passing a Republican-crafted health care plan, forcing him to pursue a different strategy in trying to end Obamacare.

Thursday, the Trump administration announced that it will stop paying insurers cost-sharing subsidies that have helped insurers cover low-income Americans through Obamacare marketplaces.

“We’re taking a little different route than we had hoped, because getting Congress — they forget what their pledges were,” Trump told the summit. “But you know what? In the end it’s going to be just as effective, and maybe it’ll even be better.”

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas