With a group of more conservative lawmakers from the House Freedom Caucus now on board, Republicans in the House are setting the table for a possible Friday vote on a GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law, a day before President Donald Trump marks his 100th day in office.
The clearest sign of a possible vote quietly surfaced overnight, as Republicans posted the text of the GOP health bill – the American Health Care Act – and several related amendments, on a website which shows the expected schedule for the House floor.
The changes included language worked out in recent days by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), which would allow states to apply for waivers to certain provisions of the Obama health law, like the law’s Essential Health Benefits.
Also posted by the GOP was a fix for the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, which would strike out language that seemingly exempted members of Congress from any changes that might be made to health insurance coverage.
But while it was clear GOP leaders were now thinking about a House floor vote, it still seemed an uphill fight to convince reluctant Republican lawmakers to vote for that plan.
“I always vote my conscience, and this will not lower premiums,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), one of a group of moderates who have not been sold on GOP health care efforts so far, worried it will go against the pledge to maintain protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.
In order to set up a Friday vote, Republicans would have to first have the House Rules Committee approve a resolution setting out the guidelines for debate, including the new amendments to the GOP health plan.
“We’ve not yet made any decision on a vote,” Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters at a Thursday news conference in the Capitol.
“We’re going to go when we have the votes,” the Speaker added, tacitly acknowledging that the plan is still short of needed GOP support, as he said things remain ‘on the right track.’