Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday.
A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, members are likely to approve the short-term spending bill when it comes to the floor and keep the government open past midnight on Friday.
The failure of Republicans to unite behind the new health-care measure was a blow to White House officials, who were eager to see a vote ahead of President Trump’s 100-day mark. Congressional leaders were more focused this week on securing a spending agreement, according to multiple people involved in the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly.
It was also evidence of just how divided Republicans are about how to overhaul Obamacare, despite seven years of GOP promises to repeal and replace the 2010 law. Conservatives and moderates have repeatedly clashed over the contours of such a revamp, most sharply over bringing down insurance premiums in exchange for limiting the kind of coverage that is required to be offered.
As many as 15 or so House Republicans have publicly said they will not support the latest GOP proposal, which was crafted among the White House, the hard-line House Freedom Caucus and a leading moderate lawmaker. That leaves House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and the White House an incredibly narrow path for passage. The speaker can lose only 22 Republicans on a health-care vote because Democrats have fiercely opposed any attempt to repeal the ACA.
The federal government will shut down unless Congress passes a bill by midnight on April 28. The Fix’s Amber Phillips explains why a government shutdown is unlikely this time. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)
Exiting a roughly 90-minute meeting in Ryan’s office late Thursday night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there would be no health-care vote Friday and that the main focus of the impromptu huddle was to ensure that the leadership had the votes to pass the one-week funding bill.
“We are not voting on health-care tomorrow,” McCarthy said Thursday, denying that leaders had ever wanted to vote by Friday.
“We’re still educating members,” McCarthy said, adding: “We’ve been making great progress. As soon as we have the votes, we’ll vote on it.”
Trump weighed in on the spending negotiations on Thursday, tweeting that Democrats wanted to shut down the government to “bail out insurance companies.”
“As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks — Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!” Trump tweeted.
But the failure to make progress on health care is a good sign for smooth passage of the government funding bill — at least the version that will keep the government’s lights on through May 5. Lawmakers are still finishing negotiations on a longer-term spending deal to fund the government through September. Republicans have stated…