The House may delay its vote on the GOP’s ObamaCare replacement plan until Friday or next week, several lawmakers said.
“It didn’t look like today was going to be when we’re going to vote,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) after leaving a meeting with committee chairs and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who controls the House floor schedule.
The vote on the healthcare bill was originally planned for Thursday, the seven-year anniversary of the day ObamaCare was signed into law.
As of 1:30 p.m., GOP leaders had not made a final decision about whether to delay the vote until Friday or next week.
They were still assessing negotiations that took place Thursday between President Trump and the far-right House Freedom Caucus at the White House. After the meeting, members of the caucus said they had not reached a deal with President Trump to win their support.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he still expects the bill to come up for a vote Thursday.
“That would obviously be up to Speaker [Paul] Ryan and [House Majority] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy, but nothing leads me to believe that’s the case,” Spicer said when asked if the vote would be pushed back.
Vote is Moot
President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan are considering throwing red meat at the right to push their Obamacare repeal bill through the House. But senators from both parties are signaling those conservative goodies will have a hard time surviving the Senate.
Democrats say they are certain they can kill any language in the repeal bill that erases Obamacare’s mandate for minimum benefits in insurance plans. And top Republicans are making no promise that the last-ditch changes to win over conservatives will fly in the more centrist Senate, which is beginning to write its own health care plan that’s likely to look far different from what the House is set to vote on Thursday night.
Parliamentary rules could be the bigger problem. 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.
Republicans would also face a problem if there are so many Byrd violations that the parliamentarian rules that the whole bill is invalid.
In an interview, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the House is now indiscriminately rewriting its legislation with no regard for what can become law. Democrats are confident they can win the parliamentary battle on several key provisions in the repeal process.
“I’m pretty sure it will come out,” Murray said of the latest possible changes to the bill. “They are selling not only the wrong policy, but they are selling the House Republicans something that isn’t ever going to see the light of day.”
It’s a process that cannot start in earnest until the House passes its repeal bill and the legislation is before the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans will haggle with parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough over what is acceptable under reconciliation — a critical “Byrd bath” process that will determine whether portions of the health care proposal will need 60 votes to survive.
Republicans are working on ensuring the bill fits parliamentary rules, including potentially replacing the House bill with an entirely new substitute if needed.
“There’s only so much they can get through over there. And we’ll have to see what we can do,” said Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “It has to be acceptable to the rules. We cannot afford to [mess up] reconciliation.”
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.
Search for 216 Votes
Yesterday, in Search for 216 Votes: Obamacare Replacement Act Headed for Flames, Perhaps Overwhelmingly, I made this assessment: “Off the top of my head, I suggest odds of passage tomorrow are well under 5%. The odds the vote is scrapped are about even.”
Freedom Caucus Gets “Final Offer” From Trump
The White House gave the House Freedom Caucus a final offer as it tries to win support for a bill to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare, but the conservative group’s leader said no deal was reached by Thursday afternoon.
The lack of an agreement throws more doubt on a planned Thursday night vote on the crucial legislation. The conservative contingent has threatened the bill’s passage, as its members have said the GOP plan does not go far enough to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
President Donald Trump met with the caucus earlier as he and House GOP leaders aimed to rally enough support for their proposal. Following the meeting, though, Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters “there are not enough votes” to push the legislation through.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s weekly news conference — which was set for 3:30 p.m. ET — was delayed until further notice.
Another Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Justin Amash, said Thursday that nothing new came out of the meeting with Trump, according to Reuters. The vote will fail if held Thursday night, he added.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday he still expects the vote to take place later in the day. He added that “we have been very responsive” to concerns expressed by lawmakers.
“It’s going to pass. So that’s it,” Spicer told reporters when asked what would happen if the bill did not pass.
Here’s a humorous anecdote courtesy of ZeroHedge.
There still could be a vote today, but the sweeteners won’t make in in the Senate, even if it does pass the House.
As for Trump’s “final offer”, there is never a final offer until a deal is reached or the idea scrapped. Will Trump give up on replacing Obamacare?
If not, another offer will soon be in the works.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock