Second time’s the charm: House GOP may rework and vote on failed health-care bill after all
If nothing else, this story at least produced a stellar quote from GOPer Greg Walden: “We’re approaching the Easter season. Some things rise from the dead.”
Given the quality of the product the first go-round, though, the resurrection here is likely to be less “Easter” and more “Pet Sematary.” But don’t get too excited either way: This sounds more like a messaging campaign — “we’re still trying!” — than a serious effort to bring something back to the table.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who helped derail the bill, have been talking with some Republican moderate holdouts in an effort to identify changes that could bring them on board with the measure…
Asked if the GOP health bill will come up again, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “Yes. As soon as we figure it out and get the votes.”
A Republican leadership aide said there are currently no plans to vote on any health-care legislation this week, next week or over a weekend…
Other Republicans said they’re unaware of any plans to act on health care, and the remaining disagreements on the measure could be very difficult to resolve.
Surely Mark Meadows, head of the Freedom Caucus, has heard of this very serious effort to revive the bill. Hasn’t he?
Why would House Republicans be keen to convince people that they haven’t given up on health care even if they’ve given up on health care? Two new polls today might clue us in. The first comes from Gallup, which has Trump’s job approval at, er, 35 percent, another new low. Based on historical precedent, according to elections analyst Nate Cohn, 35 percent is around the range of presidential approval where the GOP could be expected to have its House majority threatened in the midterms despite its sizable current advantage. The second poll comes from Reuters, which found nearly half of all Americans wanted to see the GOP take another stab at health-care reform. Among Republicans specifically, the share was 80 percent. With numbers like that, even if the bill is dead, Ryan and the House GOP have an incentive not to let it look dead. Which means the proper analogy here, I guess, isn’t “Pet Sematary” but “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
This topic gives me a good excuse to quote a bit from last weekend’s sharpest critique of the Republican health-care debacle, by the Examiner’s Philip Klein. Why do so many Republican voters want to see more effort on health care, to the point where Ryan and McCarthy would be willing to engineer some sort of new kabuki negotiations this week after having declared on Friday that they were moving on? It’s because, says Klein, they’re now guilty of the biggest broken promise in modern political history:
What’s so utterly disgraceful, is not just that Republicans failed so miserably, but that they barely tried, raising questions about whether they ever actually wanted to repeal Obamacare in the first place…
Here’s the bottom line: Republicans didn’t want to repeal Obamacare that badly. Obamacare was a useful tool for them. For years, they could use it to score short-term messaging victories. People are steamed about high premiums? We’ll message on that today. People are angry about losing insurance coverage? We’ll put out a devastating YouTube video about that. Seniors are angry about the Medicare cuts? Let’s tweet about it. High deductibles are unpopular? We’ll issue an email fact sheet. Or maybe a gif. At no point were they willing to do the hard work of hashing out their intraparty policy differences and developing a coherent health agenda or of challenging the central liberal case for universal coverage. Sure, if the U.S. Supreme Court did the job for them, they were okay with Obamacare going away. But when push came to shove, they weren’t willing to put in the elbow grease.
Failing to get the votes on one particular bill is one thing. But failing and then walking away on seven years of promises is a pathetic abdication of duty. The Republican Party is a party without a purpose.
Devastating. So much so that you can imagine Trump and Ryan and Walden and Meadows reflecting on that and their cratering polls and wondering if it isn’t possible to make a few tweaks to the bill to make it more politically palatable, ram it through in order to put the ball in McConnell’s court, and then declare “victory,” hoping everyone forgets about it as McConnell and Trump move on to tax reform and infrastructure instead. McConnell has made no bones of the fact that he’s uninterested in continuing the health-care process anytime soon, saying yesterday, “We have the existing law in place and we’ll just have to see how that works out.” If the House eventually passes something, it’ll be purely so that they can say they passed something, not because they expect it to go anywhere.
Here’s Trump yesterday telling a roomful of senators, including Chuck Schumer, that health care should be doable “very quicky.”