Speed Reads


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

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."

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."