UPDATE 3 — 3/23, 3:37 p.m. EDT: Multiple media outlets are reporting House GOP leadership has canceled a previously scheduled Thursday vote on the American Health Care Act.
UPDATE 2 — 3/23, 2:13 p.m. EDT: After President Trump and Speaker Ryan meetings with conservative and moderate House Republican groups Thursday to try and ensure support went awry, passage of the highly-touted Obamacare replacement legislation is now unlikely.
Most notably, House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said after the White House meeting there was “no deal,” on the American Health Care Act. Another, apparently moderate member of the House GOP delegation, told CNN the “bill is collapsing.”
UPDATE — 6:19 p.m. EDT: At least 25 GOP members in the House of Representatives will likely vote against the American Health Care Act, set for a floor vote on Thursday.
Despite efforts by the White House and House leadership to whip votes, rank-and-file Republicans of all stripes are resistant to the measure.
“When somebody tells me I have to do something, odds are really good that I will do exactly the opposite,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is reported to have said after White House chief Steve Bannon implored members to support the bill.
President Trump warned congressional Republicans Tuesday to vote in favor of the new healthcare bill or face serious political consequences.
Mr. Trump, who spoke privately to a group of Republican legislators, said that those who vote against their party’s proposed plan would have “political problems.” Most congresspeople said they interpreted Trump to mean that their seat could be up for grabs come 2018.
The Republican Obamacare replacement plan, titled the “American Health Care Act” was crafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) with input from Trump.
“The president was really clear, he laid it on the lines for everybody,” Ryan said. “We made a promise. Now is our time to keep that promise, and we keep our promise and the people will reward us. If we don’t keep our promise, it will be very hard to manage this.”
The plan is slated to be put up for a vote Thursday, and GOP leadership is making a final push in an attempt to shore up Republican votes.
As it stands now, the bill’s passage seems to be in jeopardy. Some moderate Republicans are concerned that their constituents will be negatively affected by Medicaid rollbacks. On the other side, conservative Republicans, including many Freedom Caucus members, say the bill does not go far enough to cut the federal government out of the healthcare system.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows explained why he, and other members of the caucus, are refusing to support the bill:
“I serve at the will of 750,000 people in western North Carolina, and my primary job, more than anything else, is to serve them,” Meadows said. “I believe I am representing them in opposing this bill because it won’t lower premiums. And until it does I’m going to be a no — even if it sends me home.”
The Thursday vote serves as a test for Trump’s legislative agenda. If the bill fails to pass, this could impact the president’s momentum for new tax cuts he has promised to implement.
What remains to be seen is whether or not House Republicans are more scared of retribution from Trump if they vote against replacement legislation, or, in the case of more moderate members, retribution from their constituency if they help pass the bill.
[Reuters] [Roll Call] [Politico] [CNN] [AP] [Photo courtesy Reuters]