Just a few weeks ago, the American Health Care Act looked utterly dead. This week, the zombie bill lurched back to life and rampaged through the House, passing 217–213. What happened?
It’s actually a heartwarming story, once you leave aside the fact that the AHCA is, in its current form at least, a pretty terrible bill. Different factions of the party came together to resolve their differences and to achieve a rare moment of Republican unity. Hurray! There’s only one problem. While the conservatives who helped reanimate this legislative corpse are in no danger of losing their seats come the 2018 midterms, members of the Tuesday Group aren’t so lucky. Their willingness to get to yes shows that today’s Republican moderates are team players. It also shows they suffer from a lack of political imagination that might soon prove politically fatal.
To have any hope of passing, the AHCA could only afford a handful of Republican defections. When Paul Ryan struggled to win over the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, with its 30 or so members, the bill’s future was very much in doubt.