The fate of the Speaker Ryan repeal and replacement bill vote is not a done deal
President Donald Trump is playing “Let’s Make a Deal,” with both the conservative Freedom Caucus and the moderates. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) there will be no vote today after it had to be called off with no real timetable set at this time.
There is a slight chance that if a deal is near they could do something Friday. However, there are many questions left to be an answer. No deal is yet finished and so this is a very fluid situation. It should be noted that if they don’t vote on the bill by Monday then they will need to go back to the drawing board.
The White House made it clear today that at present “there is no plan B.” If they don’t vote on the bill it is possible to re-craft it, or they could scrap Speaker Ryan plan and work together in a more bi-partisan way.
As of now Republicans are short of the 215 votes they’d need to win the tally, raising questions about whether GOP leaders will decide to delay the vote. President Trump has worked had to get the bill passed but the problem is that is not crafted in a way that Republicans can support it.
Conservatives have been asking the White House to make changes to the bill, including ending the mandate that insurers cover “essential health benefits” that they argue raise premium rates.
But changing the bill to meet demands from the right has caused some centrists to announce that they will oppose the legislation. Centrists have raised questions about whether their constituents would be better off with Obamacare than the GOP replacement bill.
“After careful deliberation, I cannot support the bill and will oppose it,” said one of the most vocal centrists in the Republican Party. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) “I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low-to-moderate income and older individuals.”
All Republican members of the House are aware that both President Trump and Speaker Ryan are putting a great deal of pressure on them to vote for their repeal and replacement bill. The healthcare bill is still in danger of failing. More than a dozen Republican House members outside the Freedom Caucus have taken positions against the bill. Because they expect no Democrats to back their measure, House leaders can afford to lose only 22 of their 237 members and still pass the bill.
Meanwhile, across the Capitol at the Upper Chamber, the budget reconciliation procedure being used by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has strict rules that could kill language added by the House that does not have a direct budgetary effect. And that could ruin an attempt to pass a repeal on a simple majority, party-line vote.
In an interview with Politico, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who navigated the reconciliation process when Obamacare was originally passed, said he is confident that even if the bill gets through the House, many pieces would get struck in the Senate for violating the rules.
“Many of the promises Republican leadership is making to hard-liners to try to get them to vote for this bill are empty promises. They’re empty in the sense that under reconciliation, much of what they’re promising … [will be] objected to and be struck from the bill,” Hoyer said.
Republicans familiar with the issue say there is a good chance Democrats are correct, but they add that it’s too early to tell how things will play out. Depending on how the language is written, the GOP could argue the minimum insurance requirements affect the budget by making insurance plans more expensive and win the argument.
Here is the problem, if the bill is not crafted properly it could get tossed out in the Senate.
But if the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough rules against the GOP, they almost certainly will not encourage Vice President Mike Pence to overrule her, as some conservatives are demanding in order to load up the bill with conservative priorities. Internal guidance from top Republican aides shows that Senate leaders oppose any effort to overrule the parliamentarian via the executive branch.
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