Republican leaders say they have the votes to pass their health care bill

Republican leaders say they have the votes to pass their health care bill
Source: AP
Source: AP

The House of Representatives will vote on the American Health Care Act on Friday, following an ultimatum from President Donald Trump and late night blitz by Republican leaders.

Emerging from a closed-door caucus meeting that featured several loud cheers, Republican leaders told reporters they had the votes to advance the health care bill. Conservatives said too many Republicans still oppose the legislation.

Republicans postponed a Thursday vote that was planned to pass the bill through the House. White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Preibus came to the hill Thursday night to pressure members of the House Freedom Caucus to support the bill.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the caucus' leader, said the House still does not have the votes to pass the legislation and he did not come to a consensus with Trump's advisers.

Majority leader Kevin McCarthy disagreed, saying that they do have the votes to pass the bill. 

The landmark vote to replace former President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act fell apart when the right-leaning House Freedom Caucus put up a fight over certain coverage measures remaining in the bill.

Trump had previously met personally with members of the Freedom Caucus in an effort to save the reforms, which were a bedrock promise of his 2016 campaign. His personal intervention has run parallel with negotiations run by Ryan, who has championed the bill amid dissent within his own chamber.

Earlier, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had repeatedly insisted at the daily press briefing that the bill would go to a successful vote Thursday, and that there was no contingency plan if things went awry.

On a day when protesters swarmed the Capitol to demonstrate against the proposed GOP reforms, Rep. Meadows told reporters in Washington he was still fighting to reach a consensus on the bill.

"Do I think it gives the president a loss? Absolutely not. We're going to get to the finish line," Meadows said. "We will be able to applaud a process that is the very fabric of who we are as American people."

As the Washington Post noted, 

Passage of the bill would represent a major political victory for both the White House and House leaders, although the ultimate fate of the legislation hinges on the Senate. There are at least a dozen skeptics of the bill among Senate Republicans, who maintain a slim 52-to-48 advantage, and many of them want to maintain some of the current law's more generous spending components.

"House Republicans plan to meet behind closed doors Thursday night to consider their next steps," according to the Associated Press.

The lawmakers could return to vote on the health bill Friday.

"We are having discussions. Members have been advised that votes are expected tomorrow," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told Mic.


Will Drabold contributed reporting from Washington.

March 23, 2017, 9:07p.m.: This article has been updated.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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