From the standpoint of elected leadership, Louie Gohmert acknowledges he’s still an outsider.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, though, would say he’s critically important. Gohmert hopes, at least, that translates into influence to dismantle Obamacare.
“I’ve got more power than I had two Congresses ago,” the U.S. Congressman said last week, touching on a variety of issues during a two-hour meeting with the Kilgore News Herald.
For example, Gohmert says, the ‘outsider’ moniker comes in handy when colleagues in the Republican Party or across the aisle need a quiet contributor to a contentious bill’s language, whatever secret wrangling needs to be done to get more votes in line.
“There’s power beyond just being an outsider when people come to you,” the seventh-term representative said. “I’m at a point where I do have an effect.”
He’s looking ahead to a bid for an eighth stint representing Texas’ First Congressional District, and Gohmert has already drawn a GOP challenger: Renee Culler currently resides in Dallas but hopes to unseat the longtime incumbent in 2018 and move back here to represent the district.
Culler’s husband, Anthony, was one of two challengers facing Gohmert in the March 2016 Republican Primary – Gohmert won that re-election bid and beat a Democrat opponent in November.
A Tyler resident, Gohmert agrees one term then another (and five others) counters his advocacy for term limits. Accepting that, he wants to keep on fighting until he can help put term limit legislation in place.
“My concern, and why I’m currently planning on running again is, number one, I don’t think we have much more of a window for getting things done,” he told the News Herald, “for getting things back on track.”
Meanwhile, Gohmert’s preferred term limits are two-fold.
“What I would ideally like to see is term limits for both elected (officials) and for people in bureaucratic positions,” he explained. “We’ve given them way too much power. They basically run things.”
On the elected side, Gohmert sees a benefit in giving politicians time to get accustomed to the office.
“There is a time lag in the education process,” he said, “for people to figure out how the game is played and how abusive it is. Republican leaders are every bit as manipulative as the Democratic leaders.
Likewise, “I do think you have to be there a while before you can build up enough credibility to get something like term limits done.”
As leadership goes, Gohmert said he continues to be discouraged at the push for ‘Ryancare’ rather than a full repeal-and-replace of ‘Obamacare.’ He’s particularly disheartened at a GOP overtone of ‘pass it then read it,’ shades of Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s statement on the Affordable Care Act: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
Responding to a double standard, “I bring up Pelosi’s line,” Gohmert said, lamenting haste which limits not just the time to read legislation but to truly consider it: “You can read through the bill in a day and a half … but you can’t discern as many actual effects,” and how it will impact other laws.
“A lot of time you’ve really gotta talk to healthcare providers. There are a lot of effects it takes time to figure out.”
Right now, Gohmert said, his stance is against voting for Ryancare.
“I’m not being a purist in this at all,” he said. Rather, “It doesn’t repeal anything. It gives the power to (Secretary of Health & Human Services) Tom Price to have a regulatory repeal … The meaning of the law is never to give power to a bureaucrat to repeal or destroy a law.
“Where we are right now is trying to remove some mandates that will bring the premiums down. We’re at this point, people are so desperate for us to pass something – if we do a year from now people will be so angry, their premiums will go up.”
That voter anger could become a drubbing for Republicans at the polls, Gohmert warned, handing the majority to Democats.
“The first thing the new house will do is impeach Trump. They want to do it now but we’re standing in the way.”