May 5, 2017

"A fog lifted" at the White House


Evan Vucci / AP

West Wing officials had been sweating the health-care vote more than they let on. A White House source texted Axios' Jonathan Swan last night: "Needed that win. It was like a fog lifted."

  • Many on Trump's staff knew that the first bill was a dog, even though they had to sell it publicly. The way history is being written internally is that Healthcare 1.0 was outsourced to Speaker Ryan and HHS Secretary Tom Price, which is now seen at highest levels as a major mistake. For 2.0, letting Vice President Pence play quiet broker with the House factions worked much better. (More on Pence's role here.)
  • Reality check: Yesterday's Rose Garden celebration (a rare gesture when a bill has passed one chamber, and is probably months from the president's desk) could become Trump's "Mission Accomplished" if the bill bogs down in the Senate, or on its return trip to the House.
  • Sound smart: House leaders knew the fragile vote could unravel if they delayed. But now members have rushed into voting for a measure that has zero chance of becoming law in its current, controversial form. And they did it for Trump, who could wind up costing some of them their seats.

What's next: The Senate will radically rewrite the House bill, which will take at least a month, and maybe two. But Mitch McConnell will allow the wheels to turn. A top aide says: "He wants to get it done."

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