The big vote on the American Health Care Act that was scheduled for this afternoon is no longer happening due to a massive clusterfuck of misaligned priorities among House Republicans. We knew that Trump and Paul Ryan would have to fight like crazy to get the minimum number of votes, and it turns out that the dueling priorities of their own party ultimately sunk the current version of the bill. As the Times reports, the ultra-right conservatives of the Freedom Caucus, led by North Carolina’s Mark Meadows, managed to wring a series of concessions from the Trump-Ryan plan at the last minute by threatening to withhold their votes:
President Trump had agreed to many of the demands that the most conservative House Republicans had made, including ending requirements that health insurance plans provide a basic set of benefits like maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits.
This is clearly horrible, but it’s also one of those “banality of evil” situations—your standard Republican legislative cruelty. However—and this is a big however, since Democrats are basically neutered in the House—moderate Republicans balked at the changes, along with the fact that millions would lose insurance, and began to defect on the “left” side of the congressional right.
After all the negotiations, passage seemed, if anything, farther away. Some rank-and-file members balked at the removal of coverage and benefits their constituents depend on. The president scheduled a late-afternoon meeting at the White House with members of the centrist Tuesday Group.
This “Tuesday Group,” founded in 1994 and currently about 50-strong, began to defect in significant numbers. Jaime Herrera Beuler, of Washington, went public with her impending “no” vote, and in the process essentially called the bill garbage.
As The Hill reported this morning, she wasn't alone:
GOP centrists in the House are fleeing from their party's ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation, complicating White House efforts to win passage in a vote scheduled for Thursday.
Centrist defections in the last 24 hours include Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), the co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, which has roughly 50 members.
Reps. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), David Young (R-Iowa), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), all centrists, have also announced their opposition to the bill.
Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), two other centrists, earlier announced their opposition.
Amazingly, even Trump's Twitter proclamations that his plan would be “terrific” and “you are going to be very, very happy” didn't persuade GOP congressmen:
In the end, the votes weren’t there, and the day (and week, and month) finished in failure for Trump and Ryan. It’s back to the drawing board now, but the critical problem remains—how do you placate one side of your own party without alienating the other?