The Trump Ultimatum

by Rich Lowry

Trump wants a vote no matter what tomorrow and says he’ll abandon Obamacare repeal if the bill doesn’t pass. This is highhanded and, if sincere, reckless. A loss would be a major blow but there would be other avenues available to get a repeal bill–the Senate could go first, or the House could try again with something better crafted. This Trump tack, together with the reporting about how the White House is beginning to point its finger at Speaker Ryan for the legislation’s struggles, is a sign of how his relationship with Congress could sour quickly. On the other hand, the threat might just shake loose enough votes for the bill to squeak through. One problem with the House’s salesmanship is this vote isn’t really the binary choice that it says–as noted above, there are other ways to proceed even if this bill fails. The Trump threat appears to make it truly a binary choice, and there is some talk among journalists tonight that the resolve of the Freedom Caucus is softening. The gambit is typical Trump–high-stakes, unorthodox, and instinctual. We’ll know more about its efficacy, and perhaps about the course of his presidency, tomorrow. 

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