Trump Issues An Ultimatum To House Republicans: Vote On Friday Or Obamacare Stays
Update: Trump’s bluff may be working already. Following Trump’s ultimatum, Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus said that the healthcare bill has been improved, and that the Freedom Caucus will meet and discuss the revised bill. And while Meadows is maintaining a solid front for now, saying he is a “No” vote right now, with Trump having shone the spotlight fully on the Freedom Caucus, and thus providing republicans with a scapegoat should the vote fail tomorrow, we would not find it at all surprising if the Freedom Caucus were to fold overnight following “intense deliberations.”
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Following a day of narrative twists and turns ahead of what was supposed to be a Thursday night vote to repeal Obamacare, a vote which was pulled in the last moment when over 30 conservative and moderate House republicans threatened to vote against the Ryan/Trump plan, Trump has had enough with the Freedom Caucus dissenters and has issued an informal ultimatum: vote to repeal Obamacare on Friday or Obamacare stays.
Trump is demanding a vote Friday in the House on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said according to Reuters. If the bill fails, Trump is prepared to move on and leave Obamacare in place the budget director added.
Trump officials meeting with the House GOP conference said Trump is done negotiating over the legislation, which was set to come up for a vote Thursday but was delayed.
Mulvaney told the GOP conference that Trump wants a vote on Friday during a dramatic closed-door meeting, according to a GOP source in the room. If the vote fails, Trump will move on to other priorities and ObamaCare will stay as the law of the land, Mulvaney said.
There were last-minute changes being considered to the bill. But it was unclear whether the House of Representatives would be able to pass it, said North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, the chairman of a group of conservatives known as the Freedom Caucus, which has been critical of the bill. “I’m still optimistic” about reaching an agreement, Meadows told reporters.
Having met with Paul Ryan on Thursday evening, Trump’s right hand man Steve Bannon told reporters after the House Republican conference that he expects lawmakers to vote Friday on the health-care bill. When asked if he’s confident there’s enough votes for passage: “We’re going to vote and we’ll see.”
Rep. Chris Collins confirmed the Trump administration’s message after the meeting. Trump is done negotiating, he said. “We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass, but he’s moving on if for some reason it didn’t,” Collins said.
According to The Hill, the developments set up a likely vote on the measure Friday afternoon.
It remains unclear just how Trump’s ultimatum will change the minds of dozens of Republicans who have vowed to oppose the bill, putting them into a direct confrontation with their president. With all of the House’s Democrats expected to vote against the bill, the GOP can only afford 22 defections.
Additionally, even if their replacement plan does eventually get approval from the House, the legislation faces an even tougher fight in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Meanwhile, in a worst case scenario, in which the House votes tomorrow and fails to generate the needed majority of votes, it is unclear just how Trump can “move forward” under the reconciliation process, as tax reform is part and parcel with deficit-reducing – as scored by the CBO – Republican health bill. Should Trump push on, at best it will mean he has an even smaller tax cut cushion. Furthermore, should Trump further antagonize the Freedom Caucus, a far bigger problem for Trump and the government will be if the conservative wing refuses to budge on the debt ceiling negotiation, because should the US be unable to once again indefinitely extend the debt ceiling limit, the US will suddenly have far greater problems than repealing Obamacare.