Leadership’s efforts to dismantle and replace the health law are running into major resistance from the far right wing of their own party. In the midst of the turmoil, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called a special all-members caucus meeting Wednesday to try to get the malcontents in line and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is defending the Republican plan against attacks from the chamber’s Freedom Caucus.
Six weeks into unified government, Republican leaders are back to where they were in the Obama years — under fire from conservatives for giving too much ground on major policy issues. In particular, the party push to undo the health care law while avoiding major disruptions in coverage — a priority reinforced on Tuesday by President Trump in his prime-time address — is encountering major resistance from the right.
Congressional Republicans, racked by divisions over health care, taxes and spending, are increasingly desperate for leadership from the White House to unite the party and point the way toward consensus. But presidential leadership does not appear to be forthcoming, leaving the party largely paralyzed at a moment it had thought would be full of legislative activity.
Republicans are having a break-the-glass moment on Obamacare. After promising for years to upend the Democratic health care law the first chance they got — and with plans to hold a vote to repeal by early April — the party remains far from consensus. So far, in fact, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called a special all-members caucus meeting Wednesday to try and get his rowdy caucus in line.
House Republican leaders were ebullient after President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress Tuesday night, convinced that their proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare had just gotten the presidential seal of approval. Conservatives who abhor the GOP leadership plan saw just the opposite.
Republicans are looking for a path forward on ObamaCare amid conservative opposition to key elements of their plan. The leaders of the two top conservative groups in the House, Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), on Monday said they could not support a leaked draft GOP plan because it featured tax credits to help people buy coverage, which they warn is creating a new entitlement. The two groups have enough votes to sink a bill, meaning their opposition would doom legislation.
Senate Republicans will meet Wednesday to discuss the caucus’s strategy for nixing ObamaCare. A spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed that the Kentucky Republican has convened a caucus meeting, noting it is “another in a series of meetings on Obamacare repeal and replace.” But the closed-door session comes amid fresh concerns about whether Senate GOP leadership will ultimately have the votes to repeal the law.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday pushed back against GOP lawmakers who vowed to vote against a leaked draft of the House Republican plan to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. A number of conservative lawmakers, including North Carolina Reps. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and Mark Walker, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, came out on Monday in opposition to a discussion draft obtained last week by CQ Roll Call and other news outlets. The two groups hold considerable sway over conservatives.
More than a dozen lawmakers on the two House committees in charge of drafting the chamber’s overhaul of the 2010 health care law hadn’t seen draft legislative text before it leaked to CQ Roll Call and other news outlets Friday. Even the two subcommittee chairmen with jurisdiction over health care, Reps. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio and Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, said they hadn’t received the draft ahead of time. Nor had House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black, R-Tenn., whose panel often works closely with the Congressional Budget Office that will evaluate the bill’s financial impact.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows’ wife is rallying North Carolina Republicans to sink Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement bill, telling activists in an email that “Ryancare” “will be wrapped around Republican’s necks.” In a Monday afternoon email, a copy of which was obtained by Politico, Debbie Meadows encouraged Republicans to call Ryan’s office and the White House to protest the House plan.
Republican leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas have promoted the idea that consumers should have a “health care backpack,” which would make it possible to take insurance from job to job or when moving, starting a business or retiring. The concept — often referred to as “portability” — is appealing. Why should a health plan be tied to where you work or live? Why can’t it go where you go?