Members of the House Freedom Caucus have canceled a planned Thursday night vote on President Donald Trump’s ObamaCare replacement, and this is a good indicator that the measure would have failed.
Vote Canceled After Negotiations Between Trump And House Freedom Caucus Members Break Down
House members had planned to vote on the measure Thursday evening, but now there’s no word on when a vote will occur, Politico reports. There will still be a Thursday meeting, however, as House members try to decide what the next steps should be.
Negotiations between Trump and House Freedom Caucus members hit a bump after members of the Caucus were told recent concessions to the far-right were Trump’s final offer. That didn’t sit well with the archly conservative group and they rejected the offer.
And Trump’s failure means that Speaker Paul Ryan won’t likely have the necessary votes to pass the measure. As it is, he can only afford to lose 22 votes on the House floor. The House Freedom Caucus has three dozen members and all of them say they plan to block the bill unless they get what they want.
And some of the most severely conservative Republicans are gunning for the healthcare measure, frequently referred to as TrumpCare, saying they want to take it down, reports Asawin Suebsaeng, writing for The Daily Beast.
“Their whip count is wrong,” one Caucus aide told the Daily Beast Tuesday morning. “We’re taking [TrumpCare] down.”
A vote on the bill may still come within the next few days, but canceling the vote is a huge stumbling block for Trump, who promoted himself as a “master deal maker,” PBS NewsHour reports. And for further icing on the cake, the defeat comes on the anniversary of former president Obama’s signing the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare) seven years ago. Republicans spent years trying to repeal this, which helped them maintain control of the House and Senate, but they aren’t any happier about TrumpCare.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said there was “no deal” after he and 22 other rebellious Republicans discussed the measure with Trump, in an attempt to gain more concessions that would reduce requirements for insurance companies.
The current Republican legislation would halt tax penalties against people who don’t buy coverage, as implemented under Obama. Unfortunately, it would also cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low-income people, but on the plus-side, it would still offer tax credits to help people pay their medical bills, even if on a skimpier level. What’s really bad about this is that it would allow insurers to make coverage for older Americans more expensive and repeal tax boosts that the law had imposed on the wealthy and companies in the health industry.
Even worse, the measure would stop federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year.
But severely conservative Republicans aren’t winning any friends with their draconian additions to the law.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, people disapprove of the GOP’s legislation by 56 percent to 17 percent, while 26 percent are undecided. And the poll also shows that six out of 10 viewed Trump’s healthcare unfavorably.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi couldn’t resist jabbing Trump.
“You may be a great negotiator,” she said. “Rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready.”
But before the Thursday vote was canceled, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was optimistic, saying at his daily briefing that “nothing leads me to believe that” the vote might be canceled. He added that he thinks that since Trump has now met with the Freedom Caucus Republicans will ultimately bring in the extra votes, noted reporters Rachel Bade, Kyle Cheney and John Bresnahan wrote for Politico.
“We walked out with more members in support for the American Healthcare Act today than we started the day with,” Spicer said. “And I continue to see that number climb hour by hour. And I anticipate that we will get there.”
And Meadows, for his part, was a little less skeptical than before. On Capital Hill Thursday afternoon, he told reporters that “we have not gotten enough to get to yes at this point. …However, I would say progress is being made.” He credited Trump’s participation in the negotiating process as being “unparalleled in the history of our country.”
Freedom Caucus members provided another obstacle to TrumpCare by insisting that Trump’s latest concession — a promise to repeal ObamaCare’s mandate that a minimum level of “essential benefits” remain in place — wasn’t enough. The group wants all Affordable Care Act regulations to be repealed — even including popular provisions that Trump is trying to keep in place.
The Republicans target list also includes a prohibition against discriminating against people dealing with pre-existing conditions and a requirement that allows adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26, Politico reports.
“Repealing [essential health benefits], w/out making other substantial changes, would make the bill worse, not better,” tweeted Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash (R-Mich.) “It would hurt the sickest people on exchanges.”
And it should come as no surprise that many Republicans aren’t happy with the Freedom Caucus at this point, and they contend that the group keeps sidelining the passage of the measure — because they don’t want it to pass at all.
“The president is good at negotiating, but he has to have someone who wants to get to yes,” Trump-supporting Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) told Politico. “I was never able to sell a car or a truck to someone who didn’t want a car or a truck. It just doesn’t work. I don’t think they’re really interested in getting to an ‘end.’”
“Maybe the end is: Making sure it doesn’t pass.”
But while all this is going on, 24 million Americans stand to lose crucial and potentially life-saving healthcare and Trump and his fellow Republicans are holding this like a sword over their heads. Republicans almost certainly have other reasons to do this (perhaps they are expecting a few kickbacks from the insurance industry), but they are also likely still trying to get back at Obama — something they tried to do dozens of times while he was in office. But people’s lives may be at stake here, and Trump and his fellow Republicans are caught up in this little game.
And for many Americans, it’s a game with no winners. Except the insurance industry, perhaps.