A vote is expected this afternoon on the GOP healthcare plan known as the American Health Care Act. The vote is still in limbo as members on both sides find parts of the Act difficult to accept and are aware their constituents’ disapproval of the plan as it is currently written. President Trump entered his bully pulpit to issue House Republicans an ultimatum; vote to repeal and replace the ACA or leave it in place. The Presidents reputation, and reach, is on the line for one of the biggest promises he made to the American people during his campaign.
A caucus meeting late Thursday night revealed signs that the stalemate was starting to ease as some members suggested that the ultimatum may have pushed some legislators to wake up and see this as a make-or-break moment. This is their moment to fulfill a campaign promise on something that the GOP has been clamoring for the last 6 years. Representative Tom Cole, R-Okla, put it simply:
In politics there is always another day, but there are certain critical moments where these things come to a head, and I think tomorrow is one of those moments, one of those test moments for this conference, I hope we’re up to it.
GOP leaders and the White House have been tirelessly talking with opposite ends of the House Republican caucus to salvage a deal that will pass. Attempts to meet the demands of the caucus, who are under pressure from conservative interest groups not to bend, and the most moderate members of the Tuesday Group, were often at odds. There is fear of an electoral backlash in 2018 within their swing districts. The GOP plan just doesn’t fix anything and most opposed to the plan are in the “repeal and replace” arena so anything short of that is unacceptable.
Trump has hit the campaign trail with full-fledged rallies to generate support for the bill, but his latest in Kentucky he barely touched the healthcare subject. He’s also been tirelessly lobbying members on the bill, but has seemed hesitant to put his full political weight behind, what little weight there is still left that is. Statements like “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” don’t help his position and demonstrates just how disconnected he is from “common people” healthcare issues.
Republicans have backed themselves into a corner that is starting to look like a no-win situation. If the first bill dies in the House, the devastating message for Trump and the GOP is that they have not found a way to govern despite holding control of Congress. The setback would cause problems with Trump’s other priorities like tax reform all the while having a grey cloud of suspicion hanging around in the form of a FBI investigation. Rushing to pass an unpopular bill, riddled with problems, the Democrats obtain all the ammunition they need to retake control during mid-term elections in 2018.
The disarray in the GOP overshadowed by Trump’s unpredictability is only the beginning of their troubles if the bill fails to pass.