Mar 8, 2017

House GOP huddles on Obamacare repeal struggles

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Republicans met this morning to talk out their differences on the Obamacare repeal effort just before two committees take up the bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan told skeptical conservatives that if the replacement bill doesn't pass quickly, it will delay other conservative priorities, including tax reform, according to Rep. Tom Cole.

Another key message, according to Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden: If Republicans don't pass Obamacare repeal and replacement in the budget "reconciliation" bill — which only requires 51 votes in the Senate — they would need 60 votes to pass anything else.

So far, though, conservatives are still digging in against it. Here's what Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said as he headed into the meeting across the street from the Capitol: The bill needs "major changes" so it focuses more on bringing costs down for everyone, not just covering the uninsured.

We've paid way too much attention to coverage.

The bottom line: Cole, on whether it has the votes to pass the House: "Today? Probably not."

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