The White House is pushing for another showdown vote on repealing Obamacare next week, to coincide with President Donald Trump’s hitting the 100-day milestone in office.
Legislative text of a new deal that could revive the House Republican bid to repeal Obamacare is likely to be circulated Friday “or by the weekend,” according to two senior White House officials, with an eye toward holding a House floor vote next Wednesday or Thursday.
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But Republican congressional leaders are skeptical the vote can happen so quickly. “The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House and the answer isn’t clear at this time,” said a senior GOP aide. “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.”
Administration officials are feeling inordinate pressure to pass the legislation because of Trump’s impatience and fears that his failure to repeal the health care law will dominate coverage of the administration’s first 100 days, which end next week, officials say.
The White House believes it is “close” to having the 216 votes needed to get a bill out of the House, one senior official said, but “people don’t want to commit without seeing the text.”
Trump has asked repeatedly — and sometimes several times per day — about the status of the health care law and seems more engaged than during last month’s failed effort to get Speaker Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act through the chamber, a senior administration official said. The president believes that it will be difficult to gain momentum on other issues without “getting something done on health care,” according to one person who spoke to him.
The flurry of activity just days before Congress returns to Washington aims to reunite the GOP behind Ryan’s embattled bill, offering concessions meant to win over the party’s moderate and conservative wings. It sets up an all-out sprint to make concrete progress on health care amid the specter of a government shutdown.
The deal — brokered by centrist Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur and hard-right Freedom Caucus head Mark Meadows — proposes giving states more flexibility to opt out of major Obamacare provisions, while at the same time preserving popular protections like the law’s ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
It remains unclear whether the proposal can succeed in shifting any votes —Trump and leaders were forced to abandon a planned vote last month in the face of intraparty rebellion. They’ve since struggled to find a path forward, and even the deal being floated now relies largely on rehashing concepts lawmakers previously rejected.
But Trump has made clear he wants progress fast on health care repeal — a campaign promise that he said would be completed on “Day 1” but that has remained bogged down nearing the 100th day of his presidency, a key milestone. On Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan in London said Republicans are putting the “finishing touches” on a health care proposal.