The Trump Administration’s first really big political test is underway today.
Frustrated with intra-partisan wrangling about the terms of the American Health Care Act, President Trump said yesterday that he was “done negotiating” on the terms of the proposal to “repeal and replace Obamacare” bill. Both he and Speaker Paul Ryan have staked a great deal of political capital on the passage of this bill out of the House.
Democrats are dead-set against it, so the bill will require passage with basically only Republican votes. That means Republicans can afford no more than 22 “nay” votes from their side of the aisle. And as of the time I’m posting this squib post, current whip counts show about 30 “nays” from the GOP caucus and an unusual set of floor defections on the rule for debate. Most of this dissent seems to be coming from the Freedom Caucus, whose members have taken the position that the AHCA doesn’t do enough to reverse Obamacare policies. But for every change to accommodate the Freedom Caucus’ desires, more moderate Republicans from more marginal districts face pressure to vote no because such a bill will do too much to reverse Obamacare policies.
None of this addresses the problem that passage of something like the AHCA out of the Senate looks well nigh impossible, for similar reasons as the House confronts — plus the Senate’s filibuster rule. Nor does it get to the issue of what would happen in the bicameral conference that inevitably would result from the Senate theoretically passing a different bill on the same subject.
A floor vote on the House of Representatives is scheduled to happen at some point between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. eastern time today. House Republicans have no plan “B.” As I see it, it’s a huge hit on both Trump’s legislative strength and Ryan’s Speakership if the bill doesn’t pass: both put huge weight in the campaign on the Republican party’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
I haven’t bothered to call my Congressman about this issue because my Congressman is Kevin McCarthy. He’s kind of committed to voting “yes” since he’s the House Majority Leader. Maybe your representative is a bit more persuadable than mine.
Maybe I’m pretty sure that some of you have some thoughts on this pending event. So, discuss! Consider this a mostly-open thread focused on U.S. politics generally, but with special emphasis on the political issues surrounding the ACHA.
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