If you got dizzy from all of the Obamacare repeal news yesterday, here's the bottom line: Two House committees are about to take up the Republican repeal and replacement bills this morning with no path to the 218 votes needed to pass the House. That's because conservative Republicans are in full rebellion, even after President Trump's endorsement and an afternoon of sweet talking from their former colleague, Vice President Mike Pence.
Rep. Raul Labrador's warning last night after a meeting of the conservative Freedom Caucus: "I don't think there's any tinkering that will get us to 218."
Here's where things stand heading into today's committee markups:
- A meeting of the Freedom Caucus last night that was supposed to get everyone behind the bill instead proved that conservatives are running away from it. Read Caitlin Owens' story here.
- Before the meeting, House Republican leaders and conservative Republicans spent the day holding dueling press conferences about whether the plan is conservative enough — not exactly a sign of confidence.
- First, Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady and Energy and Commerce Committee Greg Walden — with Brady warning, "We can act now, or we can keep fiddling around and squander this opportunity to repeal Obamacare."
- Then, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Jim Jordan, announced they're introducing the 2015 repeal bill and calling for a vote on that — because, Jordan says, the House Republican replacement bill is "Obamacare in a different form."
- Then, House Speaker Paul Ryan declared he takes a back seat to no Republican: "I've been doing conservative health care reform for 20 years."
- At a White House meeting with the House Republican whip team, Trump said he was "proud to support" the House bill. He told the group he wants the bill to pass "largely intact," per the Washington Post.
- Later, Trump tweeted at Paul: "I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!"
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to take up the bill in the Senate before the April recess, after the House passes it.
- Jordan's main complaints: the GOP bill doesn't get rid of the Medicaid expansion (though it is phased out), and it doesn't repeal all of the tax increases (the Cadillac tax returns in 2025). He didn't get specific about what else is different from the 2015 repeal bill.
- At the White House press briefing, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said there will be "three phases" of Obamacare repeal: passing the House bill, regulatory changes that he'll make, and then passing other health care reforms that can't be done through the budget "reconciliation" process.
- Conservative groups are trying to build opposition to the bill, with the powerful Heritage Action calling it "bad politics and bad policy." (Shane Savitsky compiled a helpful list of the opponents here.) And conservative news sites are attacking it. Trump is supposed to meet with conservative leaders this afternoon.
The bottom line: Conservatives will get their chance to amend the bills in the House committees. But if they fail, and they're still complaining after that, Ryan has made his intentions clear: He's moving ahead anyway.