“Let’s Get This F–king Thing Done!” Republicans Rejoice, But Senate Warns Healthcare Bill Won't Pass
Ahead of today’s 1:30pm-ish vote on Obamacare, Republican representatives are positively giddy that they finally have internal consensus and, absent some catastrophic last minute hurdle, will finally pass the Republican healthcare bill, beginning the process of repealing and replacing most of Obamacare. As the Hill reports, the scenes this morning in the Capitol were nothing short of a pep rally.
Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP leadership team held what amounted to a pep rally for rank-and-file members in the Capitol basement Thursday morning as they predicted victory in their push to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Leaders played the “Rocky” theme song as lawmakers walked into the meeting. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put an image of George S. Patton on the screen and read inspirational quotes from the general.
“Let’s get this f–king thing done!” Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told her colleagues, according to sources in the room.
As discussed previously, following several prominent flips among holdouts, the House is expected to vote shortly after 1pm on the GOP’s healthcare bill, which has been stalled in the lower chamber ever since leaders yanked it off the floor six weeks ago. Top House Republicans predicted they had the 216 votes necessary to pass, touting the expected victory as a win for the GOP’s vision on healthcare.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise touted the previously reported exit by all insurers from Iowa as proof “this law is in a death spiral” adding that “our bill rescues families, focuses on lower premiums, and puts people back in charge of their healthcare decisions,” he told reporters.
“I think you’re going to see a proud vote today on the floor by a bunch of members ready to go and rescue people from the failure of ObamaCare,” he said.
Passage would hand Ryan and his team a huge, much-needed legislative victory, though the bill faces a difficult path in the Senate.
It would also be seen as a major victory for the president who has failed to pass any major legislation since coming to office. Trump ally Rep. Chris Collins said “The main message was to remind America we are saving healthcare, we are saving the individual exchanges, which are failing hour by hour.”
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Republican celebrations, however, appear to be wildly premature.
While the House may finally have the support for its “do-or-die” vote, the Senate has poured cold water on the proposed Obamacare repeal bill, and as the Hill also reports, Republican senators say they don’t see a way to get healthcare reform over the finish line, even if the House passes a bill this week. The website quotes a senior GOP senator who said “the chances of getting 51 votes for legislation based on the House healthcare bill are less than 1 in 5.” The same senator also said that the chances the House bill will meet Senate budgetary rules preventing a filibuster at less than 1 in 5, meaning portions of the legislation would have to be removed, something which will lead to a lot of very angry represetnatives.
So why the euphoria?
It turns out that the should the big picture be put together, Paul Ryan may end up losing his job if the bill stalls once again>
Lawmakers are keeping quiet about their concerns because they want to help Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whose job they fear may be in jeopardy if the House fails again to approve an ObamaCare repeal bill.
“Paul Ryan is a talented and thoughtful legislator and leader. It’s important for him to succeed,” said one GOP senator. But the GOP senators are also preparing: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has convened a group of conservatives and moderates to figure out what healthcare legislation could get 51 votes on the Senate floor.
McConnell and the top two members of his leadership team, Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn (Texas) and GOP Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.), met with the group Tuesday. People who attended the meeting said the group is trying to figure out if a consensus can be reached among Senate Republicans on an ObamaCare replacement bill.
If the group can’t reach an agreement, there is already discussion on whether a bill should be brought to the floor.
For now, McConnell is keeping an optimistic facade and says he is committed to getting a result. “We don’t want to give up on this,” he said, before warning that “it’ll be a real big challenge on the Senate side.”
Unfortunately for the GOP – and Trump – today’s vote will likely only lead to more disappointment: Republican senators say the House bill will have to undergo substantial revision if it ever passes the lower chamber, and they have serious doubts about whether the House will accept those changes. Worse, GOP senators think it’s unlikely the compromise struck between members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and moderate Rep. Tom MacArthur, which allows states to seek a waiver for certain ObamaCare insurance regulations, will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian.
Cornyn agreed and said the House bill, if it passes, will have to be revised. “I suspect the bill the House passes will be modified if for no other reason that the reconciliation rules would require it,” he said. “My goal would be if they pass a bill, which I hope they will, it will come over here and we’ll do our best work to cobble together 51 votes.”
Another GOP lawmakers said the House bill will have to be changed “a lot.”
As a result the blame has already begun: some senators argue the push in the House could set up the Senate for blame.
“All they care about is getting it out of the House so they can say that the Senate couldn’t pass healthcare reform,” said a second GOP senator who requested anonymity. Still, this lawmaker said GOP senators are ready to help Ryan out even if it means they shoulder the blame for killing a bill that faces a steep climb to enactment.
Ryan took a public pummeling after he failed to muster enough votes to pass healthcare reform in March. He was hurt by statements — some public and some anonymous — by senators casting doubt on whether the bill could pass the Senate, undermining the resolve of House lawmakers to take a tough vote.
Senators have been more careful not to make Ryan’s job tougher this time around.
Of course, if the bill ultimately dies again at the hands of Republicans, it will be Ryan’s scalp once again. However, since that will happen in a few weeks, the House speaker will have at least bought himself some time. Meanwhile, if indeed the bill fails to make it to Trump’s desk again, look for quiet discussion to start taking place on who is Ryan’s most likely replacement as speaker of the House.