The roll call’s set for sometime between 1:15 and 1:45 ET. While we wait, complete this sentence: “We have to pass the bill so that you can ___________________.”
Republicans are preparing to vote on a health care bill today that is even less transparent and accountable than Obamacare, on a rushed vote that was negotiated almost entirely via backroom deals…
Indeed, it’s notable how little independent analysis of this bill we have seen. Republicans not only do not have an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, they have not been able to point to any cost or impact estimate by outside organizations, even conservative groups friendly to the GOP. Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan posted a bullet-pointed list of effects he claimed the bill would have with the word “VERIFIED.” The document cited no outside sources for its claims. It had not been verified by anyone…
To summarize: Republicans don’t know what’s in the bill. They don’t know what it will cost. And they don’t know what it will do. But they must pass it immediately.
That’s from Peter Suderman, who’s not exaggerating when he says the GOP doesn’t know what the bill will do. Fred Upton, whose amendment to secure an extra $8 billion for “high-risk pools” broke the stalemate in the House, admitted yesterday that he has no idea if that money will matter much in getting people covered. Ryan’s team told him it would so he went with it. (In reality, the amendment could end up making high-risk pools more expensive by reducing the incentive for people to maintain coverage.) These are the same guys who rode the tea-party wave to victory in 2010 by promising transparent government and accountability, starting with a three-day waiting period between the time bills are posted and the time they can be voted on. They have become what they beheld and they are content that they have done right.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are being awfully quiet about this even though the hot potato is about to land squarely in their own laps. How come? No one thinks the House bill can pass the Senate as-is; one GOP senator put the odds at less than 20 percent that the Senate parliamentarian will deem the entire bill eligible for reconciliation, meaning that some of it will need to be stripped out just to get a vote on it. So why aren’t McConnell et al. speaking up? Turns out it’s not just comity towards the other chamber. It’s because they’re worried about Paul Ryan:
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…
“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.
Populists have wanted Ryan’s scalp for ages but have been constrained by Trump’s support for him. If today’s vote fails, Trump might turn on Ryan and catalyze an insurrection in the House. No one knows who might replace Ryan, but Trump will naturally push for a White House loyalist who can steer his agenda. If you’re eager to hold Trump and his nationalist impulses in check, as many Senate Republicans are, then having a big-name free-marketeer like Ryan in charge in the House is important. In theory, at least. In practice, it’s increasingly hard to imagine Ryan standing up to Trump on a major agenda item. And even when Trump defers to him, as he did on the AHCA, the legislation that comes out of the sausage-maker is stinky.
Here’s Ryan back in the good-government days of 2009. The key bit comes at 55 seconds in. Stand by for updates on the vote. Over/under on the number of yays is 220.
Update: Ryan’s nervous:
I've covered Paul Ryan for a while. Never seen him so anxious. Fidgeting in his seat; clasping hands, rolling neck, opening/shutting binder.
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) May 4, 2017
Update: His final pitch to the House: What good is ObamaCare if there’s no plan to purchase in your state?
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 4, 2017
Update: The bubbly is being prepared. Populist bubbly, of course.
Update: If you took the under, you won: The hot potato has been passed to the Senate with 217 votes, one more than was absolutely necessary for a majority. Presumably that was so that no single Republican could be accused next fall of having cast the deciding vote in moving the AHCA through the House.
Democrats are so excited at what they believe is a gigantic unforced error, they’re literally singing:
Update: Here are the 20 Republican no votes. Virtually the entire Freedom Caucus, including libertarian Justin Amash, voted yes.
Here's everyone that voted No on GOP side pic.twitter.com/QLZbKbqHWH
— Al Weaver (@alweaver22) May 4, 2017