After over two weeks of deliberation, House leadership has postponed a vote scheduled for sometime today on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. According to the most recent information, the vote will be rescheduled for tomorrow, but no time has been set.
The AHCA rollout, which began on March 6, was plagued by controversy, as moderate Republicans and hardline conservatives alike found a variety problems with the first draft. Despite textual changes and further negotiation, the far-right House Freedom Caucus (HFC) remains the last big roadblock, as most of its members have yet to come around to accept the ACHA as it stands.
Given numbers in the House, the GOP could only afford 21 defections, and according to most reports, somewhere around 30 members were still unwilling to vote for the AHCA as of this afternoon, with another handful of members leaning toward voting “no” as well.
Hardline conservatives continue to insist that the bill leaves too many of the Affordable Care Act’s structures in place, failing to live up to the GOP promise of repealing Obama’s signature health-care bill. Members of the HFC — including its chairman, Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.) — held an extended meeting today with President Donald Trump and his White House advisors, but still were unable to strike a deal to give the GOP the votes necessary to pass the bill today as they had intended.
Meanwhile, over a dozen moderate GOP representatives recently have announced their intention to vote against the bill, some of whom are concerned that it would inhibit their constituents’ access to affordable health-care options.
Much of today’s discussion over the bill centered around the plan’s provisions for essential health benefits, which the White House offered to strip out of the legislation in a move to win HFC votes. This offer might’ve been a reason for some of the dwindling support from moderate members.
Although the process has devolved into some confusion, and the future of the bill seems somewhat unclear, Meadows assured reporters at a press conference this afternoon that he and his members are “desperately trying to get to yes” and promised “we are going to get to the finish line.”