House Democrats Threaten Shutdown If GOP Votes on Zombie Trumpcare

Standing athwart Trumpcare, yelling STOP. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Congress is on the cusp of reaching a bipartisan agreement to continue funding the government for another week. But there’s at least one obstacle in the path of this legislative triumph: The House Freedom Caucus’s stalwart commitment to shifting blame for the failure of Obamacare repeal onto their moderate co-partisans.

Last month, the president’s plan to finance a large tax cut for wealthy investors by throwing millions of people off of Medicaid was pulled from the House floor due to lack of support. Moderate Republicans objected to the bill because they weren’t comfortable throwing millions of people off of Medicaid and dramatically increasing the cost of private insurance for non-affluent senior citizens in rural America. All of the health-care sector’s major stakeholders — from doctors to hospitals to insurers to patients — voiced similar objections. As did the American public, writ large, in public opinion polls.

On the other hand, a couple dozen reactionary representatives of the lands of Ayn Rand and Rush Limbaugh argued that the bill did too much to make health care affordable for low-income people and working-class cancer patients.

The House GOP leadership took this feedback, and, after weeks of soul-searching, decided to make their bill more palatable to the wing of their caucus that almost no one in America agrees with.

Now, in addition to cutting Medicaid and health-care subsidies for the middle class, the bill also gives states the power to let insurers price out people with preexisting conditions and make maternity coverage prohibitively expensive for poor women.

For reasons both procedural and ideological, this bill would be dead on arrival in the Senate, but the White House is eager to display “action” ahead of the president’s 100th day. And the House’s arch-conservatives are eager to pass off responsibility for the failure of Obamacare, and so there’ve been noises about the House holding a vote on the new bill this week.

On Thursday, House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer warned that such a vote would come at the cost of Democratic support for a one-week spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

“If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful Trumpcare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week Continuing Resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well,” Hoyer told The Hill in an email.

House Republicans may need Democratic votes to prevent the government from shutting down on Trump’s 100th day, as their far-right faction has an affinity for voting against temporary spending bills.

But Hoyer’s threat may prove unnecessary:

[I]nformal whip counts shared with POLITICO suggest that as many as 21 moderate House Republicans remain opposed to the repeal bill, with dozens of other votes still undetermined. The new plan, which further rolls back key Obamacare protections, may even be driving away some centrists: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) had supported Republicans’ initial repeal bill but now says he’s a “maybe.” House leaders can only afford to lose 23 votes.
House Democrats Threaten Shutdown If GOP Votes on Trumpcare