Last night's perceived "breakthrough" didn't quite pan out as expected today. The House Freedom Caucus showed up at the White House this morning and declined to take President Trump's final offer, and now it looks like exasperated Republican leaders have seen enough. Rather than allow negotiations to drag on interminably, there will be a vote. Tomorrow. And the chips will fall as they may. As Cortney reported earlier, President Trump has declared that if recalcitrant House Republicans vote with Nancy Pelosi to kill the American Health Care Act, he will walk away from the issue and allow Obamacare to remain in place. That's some real hardball, daring Republicans to defy him. House GOP leaders say they're ready to yank campaign funding away from members who cross Trump's wishes, then place the blame squarely on the party's hard-right flank:
Even if you dislike the bill -- and I think some important changes (here are a few ideas) still must be made among the way -- that assessment would be more or less accurate. Most of the Republican conference is reportedly livid at the Freedom Caucus, several of whose leaders co-sponsored a version of the AHCA when then-Congressman Tom Price introduced it in 2015. They believe the group constantly shifts goalposts and refuses to take 'yes' for an answer:
Freedom Caucus has never been particularly popular w/House Rs. But now Rs r livid w/ them. @RepChrisCollins: "They’ve deserted the team."— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) March 23, 2017
All is not well in GOPland. Tired of the bickering, threats, and demands, Paul Ryan is going to bring the bill up for a Friday vote. If it passes, that's merely step one in a lengthy process -- with Senate amendments, conference committees, and final passage votes still to come. If it goes down, Trump says he's done, Obamacare will remain the law of the land, and Republicans will have both choked on one of their most prominent campaign promises of the last decade and deliver a harmful blow to Trump's agenda in their very first significant legislative vote of 2017. Remarkable. Fed up rank-and-file members want the vote to be public and on the record. Oh my, and buckle up:
GOP source says sentiment in room "is overwhelmingly 'Bring it to floor & let the no's kill it out in the open.'"— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) March 23, 2017
.@SpeakerRyan: "Tomorrow, we're proceeding."— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) March 24, 2017
The legislation is flawed and unpopular, partially because Republicans are too busy fighting each other to defend any of their ideas. It needs improving, despite including some last-minute sweeteners for conservatives. There will not be a new CBO score before the vote (the latest stinker was already obsolete before it landed). There will not be much of an opportunity, if any, for the public to read the finalized version the bill (at least in this iteration of it). This is not an ideal process, to say the least -- but governing requires choices, and so it has come to this: Either the "repeal and replace" campaign will take a step forward tomorrow, or Saturday's headlines could read, "Tea Party Joins Democrats to Save Obamacare." Some moderates, too. Surreal. I'll leave you with this:
"Start over." But same pressures & limitations all remain as next bill is crafted, as elections creep closer & other priorities stagnate.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 23, 2017
If you're in the "start over" camp, please explain how this ends any differently "next time." And remember, if you believe the president, there won't be a next time.
UPDATES - Here are the final changes ahead of tomorrow's vote:
Here are the additions to the final AHCA deal, beyond the manager's amendment and EHB repeal: pic.twitter.com/oVNkzZzY5E— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) March 24, 2017
And has Trump's throw-down focused some minds?
Just talked to House lawmaker who surveyed bunch of HFC, RSC and TG members on health bill: "All say it will pass now"— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) March 24, 2017
We shall see.