The compromise amendment revealed this week may have been enough to win over most of the House Freedom Caucus (some HFC members are still hard no's), but it seems as though a critical mass of moderates within the party are sufficiently concerned about the updated legislation that they've indicated to leaders that they'd vote it down in its current, updated form. Last evening, a senior GOP leadership aide told Townhall that a soft whip count was not where it needed to be, but that additional negotiations were ongoing to help coax a group of centrist members on-side. The Washington Examiner has more on those efforts:
Republican leaders may make more revisions to their plan to repeal parts of Obamacare to encourage more centrists to support the legislation, after a day in which many signaled they can't support the bill in its latest form. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price met Thursday with GOP lawmakers opposed to the bill. Republicans still don't have the 217 votes they need to pass the American Health Care Act, and a vote this week appears increasingly doubtful...Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., suggested additional concessions may be made to persuade more centrists to support the legislation. "I think we understand that the MacArthur language is the language," he said about the amendment made public this week that would allow states to opt out of certain Obamacare requirements. "
But there are a couple of other tweaks that could occur on the Medicaid side to help in some extent, without it being such a huge issue that it would lose anybody." ...GOP leadership is now targeting members in the Tuesday Group to get on board. Centrists who said they would vote "no" on the bill say they haven't been contacted by leadership about potential sweeteners, including Reps. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., and Dan Donovan, R-N.Y. The Hill's "Whip List" shows that 19 Republicans are planning to vote "no" on the revised legislation. Collins said a floor vote wouldn't happen until after Congress passes a spending bill. Of travel plans for the weekend, he said, "It's been suggested that we stay flexible."
Leaders in both parties and in both chambers are consumed at present with staving off a potential partial government shutdown, which looks like it will entail a very short-term continuing resolution (which just passed overwhelmingly in the House) as the last details of a larger funding deal are finalized. Ironically, Democratic leaders have threatened that if the GOP moves forward on a healthcare vote before a government funding vote, they'd force a shutdown. Dan McLaughlin snarks, "shutting down the government over healthcare is totally okay now, you guys." Nevertheless, the challenge of bringing hesitant moderates on board means that House Republicans still have work to do on the revamped American Health Care Act; the likelihood of fulfilling the White House's goal of a healthcare vote today was therefore significantly diminished as of last night anyway. If "sweeteners" are agreed to, a vote may come in the next two weeks. Whiffing again on producing a bill that can attract a simple majority of the GOP-held House of Representatives would be an abject embarrassment and betrayal to a party that campaigned on 'repeal and replace' for seven years.
Also, a piece of legislation passing the House does not mean that exact document would become law. The Senate would have to do its work as the next step, and the upper chamber would likely make pretty big changes in order for the reconciliation-compatible AHCA to pass with 50-plus-one GOP votes. A number of Senators will almost certainly be motivated to deal with this problem with the existing bill. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that even with its enhanced public opinion standing, a 57 percent majority of voters still want to see the failing law fully uprooted or rolled back. Tick tock, Republicans. If you can't do this, what's the point of winning elections and governing? Meanwhile, the usual suspects are lining up against the GOP plan, including liberal interest groups like AARP and the American Medical Association:
Some mainstream media outlets are treating these developments as significant, but they're totally predictable. As we wrote earlier in this legislative process, both AARP and AMA were major cheerleaders for Obamacare, shunting aside their constituencies' best interests to toe the Democratic line. AARP is suddenly worried that the AHCA could impact Medicare and raise premiums, yet they loudly supported a law that did both of those things in spades. Why? Follow the money. And it was before the AMA that Obama delivered his most decisive and deceitful "keep your plan" speech, with members applauding the lies like trained seals. Any group that lent its backing to Obamacare cannot be treated as a neutral actor in the rewrite fight, and they should have their judgement questioned and assailed every time they pipe up. They're not credible as nonpartisan healthcare-first actors. I'll leave you with the conservative Club for Growth, which strenuously opposed the first iteration of the ACHA, going up on air with ads praising Tuesday Group member Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey for his leadership in forging a stronger compromise:
Obamacare has broken its core promises, has consistently harmed more people than it's helped, is falling apart at the seams (based on the Obama administration's latest data), and is poised to get worse in the coming years.