A major Missouri Senate priority is being blocked by a small group of far-right conservatives over their efforts to get their main priorities across the finish line.

The Freedom Caucus has held up action on the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, or FRA for short, which would help to cover the state’s Medicaid costs. About $4.5 billion in federal aid are at stake.

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, said he has to hold up renewal of one of the state’s largest healthcare taxes.

“Ultimately, by the way, who pays for that? Cause, I mean, we’re going to hear a lot of talk on the FRA about, well, you know, we get a kickback from the federal government and it’s a good pyramid scheme, it’s fantastic,” Eigel said. “But ultimately, who’s paying all those taxes? The people! This is a tax. This is a tax that the people are paying.”

The blockade began around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“A significant, every one of the billions of dollars that are coming from the federal government to fund this program, of course, come with a significant number of standards behavior that the state must comply with,” Eigel said. “So, the entire question of whether or not this is a good way to do business is a legitimate talking point.”

Democrats argue that the bill needs to pass to avoid substantial cuts to the state’s Medicaid program.

The Freedom Caucus wants two things before passing the FRA – the governor to sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and a final Senate vote on a proposed ballot measure to toughen the initiative petition process.

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