Time is running out on the Zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill


The Zombie “Trumpcare” bill is still not entirely dead, and may even come up for a vote in the House this week where it could conceivably pass, possibly by the minimum 216 votes needed to pass (due to vacancies in the House).

In that case, Democrats could run ads against every GOP member of the House saying that “he/she was the decisive vote in the House to take health care away from 24 million Americans.” Lookin’ at you, Rep. Martha McSally.

We have a pathological liar for a president who is comfortable lying about what is in the the Zombie “Trumpcare” bill — all indications are that he does not know nor does he care about the details — and this has caused problems for  the House GOP leadership.

In the span of two days, President Trump has given two interviews about a health care bill that does not seem to exist. Trump keeps giving interviews about a health bill that doesn’t exist:

Trump told both CBS and Bloomberg about his desire to pass a bill that protects Americans with preexisting conditions.

“I want it to be good for sick people,” he told Bloomberg. “It is not in its final form right now. It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”

I don’t know what bill he’s talking about, but it is certainly not the current Republican health care bill. As I wrote yesterday, the Republicans just revised the American Health Care Act last week to weaken protections for those with preexisting conditions. In order to win Freedom Caucus support, they added a provision that would give states a waiver from the requirement that sick people be charged the same premiums as healthy people.

This isn’t the first time Trump has done this recently. On Sunday, he said this to CBS’s John Dickerson:

Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, “Preexisting is not covered.” Preexisting conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, “Has to be.”

This just isn’t true. The American Health Care Act that the Freedom Caucus supports — the one that has a shot of passing — doesn’t contain the protections that Trump describes.

So what’s going on here? Trump could be doing a few things. He might be lying about the American Health Care Act, or he may not understand what is in it. Some have interpreted these remarks as a demand that the Republican Party go back to the drawing board and write a bill that matches Trump’s description.

This last point has created a problem for House GOP leaders whipping the Zombie “Trumpcare” bill. GOP suffers surprise defection on Obamacare repeal:

[T]he task was made even harder by an unforced error from Trump. The president told Bloomberg News in an interview Monday morning that the bill might change to provide more protections to people with preexisting conditions. “It’s not in its final form right now,” he said. Trump’s comments frustrated the House whip effort, as some members interpreted them to mean the president was reopening negotiations.

“I don’t know if there are going to be any kinds of changes,” said Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), who opposes the AHCA, as he exited a meeting of Ryan’s whip team.

By late evening Monday, Trump was calling lawmakers to walk back his comments.

Sarah Kliff responds:

There is no indication that the White House wants Congress to rework its health care bill. There is every indication that the White House wants Congress to vote on a health care bill, and that it remains unconcerned with the actual policy details of that bill. This suggests to me that Trump isn’t making a new demand to Congress. He’s inaccurately describing the Republican health care bill — but it’s unclear whether he realizes what he’s doing.

As POLITICO points out:

Privately, Republicans on the Hill and in the White House realize this week may be their last, best shot to pass the AHCA. That’s because of renewed momentum for the bill after the endorsement of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus as well as procedural constraints.

GOP lawmakers are relying on arcane Senate budget rules in an attempt to pass their health care plan with a 51-vote majority in the Senate, rather than the typical 60-vote threshold required for most legislation.

But Republicans can’t move on to their next big priority — tax reform — without launching a new budget process and canceling out their existing authority to pass health reform at the lower threshold. That would effectively kill the measure as Democrats would certainly block any Obamacare repeal bill that requires 60 votes.

GOP desperation has led House GOP leadership into a Bill O’Rielly melt down moment: “Fuck it, we’re doing it live!House Republicans continue health-care push, may leave changes to Senate:

The aim has become very simple for House Republicans stumbling closer to passing a bill to revise the Affordable Care Act: just get it off their plates and over to the Senate.

In the messy effort to rally their often unruly party around a measure to replace big parts of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, House leaders have been forced to leave other objectives by the wayside and focus on one simple, political goal: pass a bill they can say repeals Obamacare — even if it has no hope of survival in the Senate — to shield their members in next year’s elections.

* * *

Even that goal, however, is proving elusive. By late Monday, House leaders had collected more votes than ever but still appeared to be shy of the 216 Republicans they need to pass the measure. They’re stuck between conservatives and moderates, both keenly aware of how they can be attacked on the issue next year.

“If you’re in the House, what you should be thinking now is that if it doesn’t survive, it all comes back to you,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “I think what they should be focused on is getting the process moving and, frankly, passing the obligation over to the Senate.”

In other words, House Tea-Publicans are being asked to walk the plank and to vote for a terrible bill that the public overwhelmingly opposes, with the knowledge that the bill they walk the plank for is dead on arrival in the Senate and will never become law. Why would anyone paint this target on their back by taking this vote? Their self-interest dictates that they not go on the record with a recorded vote.

Conspicuously absent from the House Republican effort to get to 216 is much talk about what happens in the Senate. It turns out that the House bill is in actuality meaningless because the Senate would put forward its own version of the bill which substantially differs from the Zombie “Trumpcare” bill. “Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) explains [House Republicans] reward will be to watch senators rip up the bill and start over.” Trumpcare’s long odds in the Senate, explained by a Republican senator. Again, what motivation is there for House Tea-Publicans to walk the plank for this Zombie “Trumpcare” bill?

Whatever could pass the Senate is likely to displease the radical House Freedom Caucus that got everything they wanted in the Zombie “Trumpcare” bill in the House. It is unlikely their votes can be counted on for either the Senate bill to emerge, or a conference committee bill that attempts to smooth the differences.

In the final analysis, all Tea-Publicans really care about is political cover with their GOP crazy base. They have been promising to “repeal Obamacare” for seven years but never offered a viable alternative. They’ve got nothing.

Tea-Publicans want to be able to say to their GOP crazy base “hey, at least we tried,” hoping this will be enough to protect their incumbency.

Unfortunately, with the prevalence of polarization and GOP tribalism, they just may be correct.

UPDATE: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet scored the “MacArthur Amendment” that is the basis for Zombie “Trumpcare.” Pelosi: No ObamaCare vote without new CBO score:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House should not vote on repealing ObamaCare until Congress’s budget scorekeeper weighs in.

The nonpartisan CBO has told Pelosi’s office a score of the GOP’s repeal-and-replace plan is not coming this week, despite hopes from the White House that it could happen this week.

“Republicans are clearly terrified of their Members and the American people seeing the full consequences of their plan to gut critical protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday.

“Now, House Republicans are hoping to bring the latest version of Trumpcare to the Floor before the CBO can reveal its catastrophic impact on millions of American families,” she added.

“The American people have a right to know the full consequences of Trumpcare before their representatives vote on it.”

The CBO score would detail the expected impacts of the American Health Care Act on ObamaCare enrollees.

* * *

Despite the [MacArthur] Amendment, the GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare appears to lack the votes needed to pass the House.

Republicans can only afford 22 defections, as no Democrats are expected to vote for the measure.

Twenty-two GOP House lawmakers oppose the measure as of Tuesday, according to The Hill’s whip list.

If The Hill is correct in its whip count, Speaker Ryan doesn’t have the votes to schedule the vote. His window is closing.


    • That is a very wealthy man making the case for everyone to have healthcare, with a very convincing personal story.

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