We need to know where the Republican healthcare bill stands right now!
The House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump for swift passage of a repeal-and-replace bill appeared to be on life support as of Thursday afternoon.
Planned late-night vote on the American Health Care Act was canceled after the talks between Republican leadership and the House Freedom Caucus early in the day broke down.
President Trump sent OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to Congress to announce that the White House was cutting off negotiations and wanted a vote on the AHCA on Friday.
Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a Trump ally told reporters that The president wants a vote tomorrow and “If it doesn’t pass, we’re moving beyond health care.”
Collins also announced that GOP leaders have agreed to a few more last-minute changes to the bill:
- To put $15 billion more into a “flexibility fund” for states (a concession to the coverage caucus)
- To keep the 0.9 percent tax on Medicare for high-income earners for six more years (to raise more revenue).
White House press secretary Sean Spicer struck a defiant tone at Thursday’s press briefing, saying “It’s going to pass, so that’s it.” He refuses to entertain any hypothetical about backup plans. And indeed, it’s entirely possible that conservative dissidents will come back to the table and the repeal train will get moving again.
But Spicer also seemed to be laying the groundwork to distance the White House from possible failure, observing that “at the end of the day we can’t make people vote.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), a key leader of the Freedom Caucus, did promise late Thursday that “we are going to get to the finish line.”
Republicans took the somewhat unusual step of scheduling a vote on the American Health Care Act for March 23 before they had rounded up the necessary votes or even finalized the bill’s text.
You can think of AHCA as having two groups of critics.
One is the well-organized Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-right members who love rebelling against leadership and who foiled many of John Boehner’s best-laid plans during his years as speaker. “We are cooking if they simply say yes,” explains Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), a supporter of the bill.
While the other group is less organized group Vox has dubbed the coverage caucus — members concerned about the political and substantive blowback that’s possible if Republicans take health insurance away from tens of millions of people without an adequate substitute. The Coverage Caucus is a lot more prominent in the Senate than in the House, but it has cost Republicans some votes, with Miami’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen leading the charge.
At the moment, this has left the entire process in a kind of holding pattern. The text of the bill has not been finalized because leadership is still negotiating with the Freedom Caucus. But without a final text, it’s not possible for the Congressional Budget Office to do a clear score of the bill.