Hobbled by Trump, House Republicans are still trying to nail down health-care votes

House Republicans are still scrambling for health-care votes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Monday evening, House Republican leaders and vote counters were corralling and calling on-the-fence Republicans and those opposed to the current version of their health-care bill, scrambling to secure the 216 votes needed to pass the bill before Congress takes a week-long break starting Friday. At least 19 or 20 Republicans say they will vote against the bill, mostly because they say newest version has insufficient safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions, and another 17 are undecided; House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) can lose no more than 22, depending on absences.

GOP leaders are trying to win over members worried about pre-existing conditions by assuring them that very few states will request waivers allowing insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions, and insisting that Senate Republicans will fix the bill — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to strip out many of the House measures with a "manager's amendment," and other Senate Republicans are working on other provisions. It isn't clear what changes the Senate would actually make, or whether far-right House Republicans would approve them after a House-Senate conference reconciled the bills.

House Republicans and the Trump White House are also trying to whip up votes by warning Republicans this is their last best chance to fulfill their promise to at least partially repeal ObamaCare. Trump himself called reluctant lawmakers Monday — he had at least one high-profile failure, Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), who had supported the earlier version of the GOP health bill but opposes this one because, he said Monday, it "strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

And Trump's suggestion to Bloomberg News on Monday that the bill is "not in its final form right now" and "will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as ObamaCare" caused its own problems for GOP leaders and vote-counters. "That potentially off-the-cuff comment seemed to undercut GOP leaders on the Hill, who have insisted the bill is in its final form," Politico reports. "By late evening Monday, Trump was calling lawmakers to walk back his comments."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.