As House Republicans grow nearer to reaching a consensus on changes to the Obamacare repeal bill, moderates in the Tuesday Group have become the members to sway to get the votes needed to pass the legislation.
Leadership is hoping an amendment — brokered by Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Tom MacArthur and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows — will garner enough support to bring the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to the floor.
A draft version of the MacArthur amendment, obtained by Politico, shows substantial changes to the initial legislation, which was pulled from the floor in March due to a lack of votes. It provides a win for conservatives, who argue a number of Obamacare’s Title I regulations need to be repealed if they want to bring down premiums in a meaningful way. It would allow states the option to waive out of essential health benefits and parts of the community rating system while appeasing a number of moderates by ensuring pre-existing conditions remain covered.
New York Rep. Chris Collins, a member of the Tuesday Group who is supportive of the changes, said he’s “guardedly optimistic” about the state of health-care reform.
“The whip is going to be talking to members who were in the lean-no or the undecided or the no category over the next day or so to see where they are,” he told reporters following the House Republican conference meeting Wednesday. “Tom MacArthur explained his amendment — I do believe we’re trying very desperately as a team to get to yes.”
Collins said it’s evident the different factions of the party have managed to bridge the divide on a number of key issues, noting Meadows was the sole member of the conference to give MacArthur a standing ovation when the amendment was brought up during their morning meeting.
“I think that kind of said it all, don’t you think?” he said.
House Freedom Caucus members, who took the brunt of the heat for Republicans’ failure to pass the AHCA on their first try, opted to announce their official support for the measure Wednesday — an endorsement that requires at least 80 percent of the caucus’ approval.
While some have been swayed by the changes, a number of lawmakers — both conservative and moderate — remain unsold on the bill. The majority of the Freedom Caucus’ support is a substantial gain for leadership, but does not provide enough votes for it to pass without the help of moderates.
MacArthur told reporters he’s proud of the legislation he helped craft, noting House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is still whipping the vote count.
“I’m confident I proposed a good amendment that helps make this bill better,” he told reporters. “I’ve said before, I have introduced and amendment as an individual member of Congress and, I’m not speaking for other groups and you’ll have to talk to other members of the Tuesday Group what their view is.”
Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Charlie Dent was unswayed by the compromise spearheaded by his counterpart in the moderate House caucus, saying it’s an “exercise in blame shifting.”
Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello, also a Tuesday Group member, told reporters he’s “not a firm yes or no yet,” adding he still has reservations over its potential implications.
Staunch conservative Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said he’s switched from “hell no to no.”
“Here’s the question I keep asking people: if this repeals Obamacare what is it we are allowing states to get a waiver from?” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I mean it’s better in that it gives states the hope of repealing Obamacare because we couldn’t, so it’s better in that sense, but I think it’s still flawed.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan said they will bring the bill to the floor when they are confident they have enough votes.
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