May 5, 2017

The insider stories of the House health bill, in one place

Back in March — the first time the GOP tried, and failed, to pass the American Health Care Act — we read all of the "insider" stories and compiled them into a handy chronological list. We're doing it again now that the health care bill has passed in the House, this time with the juicy bits from the Washington Post, Politico, New York Times, Vox, and others.

  • End of March: Rep. Tom MacArthur starts sketching out an amendment that would put limits on what conservatives were demanding. "I took pen to paper," MacArthur recalled. "I presented it to the speaker and talked about it with Mark Meadows, and it got life. It moved." (WaPo)
  • Early April: Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus, who views passage of the bill as a personal make-or-break moment, calls a meeting with Ryan and asks him to cancel a 2-week congressional recess in order to finish the bill. When Ryan refuses, arguing that members needed space before the House tried again, Priebus tells him, "There will be calls for you to resign." (NYT/Politico)
  • April 27: An 11th-hour WH push to give Trump a major legislative victory before he hits the 100 day-mark fails as House Republican leaders struggle to round up enough AHCA votes. It's a big blow to Priebus, who had pushed aggressively for the House to schedule a vote this week.
  • The last week in April: Pence calls Mo Brooks of Alabama to win him over. Brooks tells him he needs more time to read the bill. 2 hours later Pence calls back and hands the phone to Trump. "Brooks flipped on the spot," per Politico.
  • The first week in May: Priebus calls members listed as "no" votes and asked them what they need to get to yes — whether on health care or other things the administration might be able to do for them. (Politico)
  • Tuesday: The president calls Rep. Fred Upton. Trump raises his voice and swears several times during their 10-minute conversation, trying to convince him that the party needs a win. Later, Ryan, McCarthy, and Scalise offer Upton $8 billion to support people with pre-existing conditions. Upton accepts. (Politico)
  • Wednesday: Trump and Upton have a more pleasant meeting. "The president was happy to sign off on their deal," one senior administration official told Politico. "It was all peace and love." Upton then files his amendment, and other key moderates switch their vote to yes.
  • Morning of May 4: Rep. Martha McSally, previously undecided, stood up in a GOP conference meeting and shouted, "Let's get this f---ing thing done!" Later that day, House Republicans gather in the basement of the Capitol while the theme song from "Rocky" blares through the speakers. McCarthy takes the podium with a picture of WWII Gen. George Patton projected behind him. (Vox)

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