LATEST: House Scraps Vote On Health Care Bill, Failed To Get The Votes

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Mar 23, 2017 3:29 PM
LATEST: House Scraps Vote On Health Care Bill, Failed To Get The Votes

House Republicans postponed taking up the American Health Care Act after it became clear that it did not have the votes to pass.

Fox News' Shepard Smith said that a closed door meeting is going to be held around 7 P.M. EST.

The bill had a rocky start from the beginning, with Medicaid expansion being left intact in the Obamacare replacement legislation. That seemed to poison the well with House conservatives. Yet, go too far on tweaking Medicaid, and then the moderate Republican lawmakers would bolt. When the Congressional Budget Office gave the bill a less than stellar report card, moderates began to break away. Fox News’ Chad Pergram elaborated on this seesaw balancing act between the House Republican leadership, members of the moderate Tuesday Group, which number around 50 members, and the conservative House Freedom Caucus. In short, the votes were not there today. The House GOP could only afford to lose 21 members. By Thursday afternoon, 30-40 members were in the “no” column (via WaPo):

As of midafternoon Thursday, 37 House Republicans — mainly Freedom Caucus members — had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

Trump will also meet Thursday with members of the moderate “Tuesday Group,” Spicer said. On Wednesday, four Republican moderates — Reps. Charlie Dent (Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (N.J.), Daniel Donovan (N.Y.) and David Young (Iowa) — announced their opposition, increasing pressure on leaders to win over conservatives.

GOP leaders appeared to be making some headway in bringing the measure to the floor for a vote Thursday. The price for doing so, however, may be striking popular provisions in former president Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that could make it even more difficult to pass legislation in the Senate. This high-wire balancing act, in which Republicans are catering to conservatives in the House with the knowledge that they still must woo moderates to get legislation to Trump’s desk, could not only reshape the nation’s health-care system but could also have uncertain electoral repercussions for the new majority.

Yet, even with these House obstacles to the bill. The Senate has signaled that the support to pass it isn’t there. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said this, warning his House colleagues to not support a bill that doesn’t have a chance in the Senate. As Guy mentioned before, asking for more time is not really an option since Republicans have had several years to get their replacement plan together. The base would not tolerate a delay on an issue of this magnitude.

Outside of his office, chair of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said that progress was being made, especially on the issue of reducing premiums from coast to coast. He did confirm that there is engagement with president on this bill, and that he’s had discussions with his Senate colleagues. Meadows is optimistic that common ground can be found for 51 or 52 senators to get behind this legislation.

The congressman did not get into specifics. What he did say was that this whole legislative debate is not about what he wants, but what our constituents back home have demanded for the past several years concerning health care reform.

“We’re going to get to the finish line,” he said confidently. Meadows also said that he would welcome Democratic support, but we're not there yet. He also said that Speaker Paul Ryan is working hard to get this done, noting that there are a number of negotiations going on as we speak. The goal is to find a consensus and try to get the 30-40 “no” votes into the “yes” column. Right now, Mr. Meadows is still a "no" vote.