Shortly after Republicans were forced to cancel the vote on their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in March, the White House revealed that it was still negotiating with House Republicans. Zombie Trumpcare had risen from the dead.
Now every time a significant date approaches on the congressional calendar, Republicans say they’re on the verge of rounding up the votes to pass the American Health Care Act. They sounded the alarm before they headed home for Easter recess, and again before President Trump’s 100th day in office, but each time Zombie Trumpcare stumbled before it could eat the brains of the American health-care system.
Now another deadline is approaching, and sure enough, Republicans are promising that AHCA will rise again.
“Stay tuned — watch next week — and you will see the repeal and replace of Obamacare,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a Republican party in Texas on Saturday.
Since Democrats won’t help gut Obamacare, Republicans are relying on a process called reconciliation that will let them pass the bill with a simple majority, not 60 votes. That window closes when they wrap up the budget for fiscal year 2017, and on Sunday night Congress reached a bipartisan spending agreement that’s likely to pass this week. Plus, as Politico notes:
The House is scheduled to leave town for a one-week recess on Thursday, and some senior Republicans worry that failing to get it done by then would fritter away critical momentum. Skittish Republicans would return home to face a barrage of pressure from Democrats and progressive outside groups.
“This is it,” an administration official told Politico. “We get it done now, or we don’t get it done ever.”
Despite reaching a compromise last week that House Freedom Caucus members actually like — though it would make the AHCA even worse for the poor, sick, and elderly – Republicans were unable to muster the support to hold a vote last week. Now GOP insiders say they’re getting close to the 218 votes they need in the House, but there’s scant evidence that they’re actually there. Per Politico:
Ryan and his team still have to nail down about 20 undecided Republicans. More than 15 lawmakers — mostly moderates — have said publicly they will not vote for the current bill. So GOP leaders, who can only lose 22 votes, are scrambling to persuade those who haven’t made up their minds.
The Wall Street Journal reports that GOP moderates are concerned that the changes made to appease conservatives will push costs higher, and their skepticism “remains a stumbling block.”
Vice-President Mike Pence tried to temper expectations for Zombie Trumpcare’s return on Sunday, telling Meet the Press that while they’re “close” to having the votes to get the bill through the House, it may not pass for months. “I hope before the end of the year,” Pence said.
They may need that time to get the president straight on what exactly is in the bill he’s championing. This is how Trump explained the compromise that would allow states to do away with protections for people with preexisting conditions, as long as they set up high-risk pools, during an appearance on Face the Nation. Per the Washington Post:
“Preexisting conditions are in the bill — and I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be,’” Trump said, later adding that the proposal has “a clause that guarantees” protection for those with preexisting conditions.
At another point in the interview, the president said, “Preexisting is going to be in there, and we’re also going to create pools, and pools are going to take care of the preexisting.”