Normally, when a new president and a House Speaker engage in heavy-duty arm-twisting over a piece of legislation, and they have a big enough majority to withstand 21 or 22 defections, the legislation passes the House. That’s all the more true if the legislation pertains to a vital issue and the president and the Speaker reasonably perceive that its defeat will have major adverse political consequences for them and their party. And it’s especially true when the Senate still stands as a barrier to enactment of the legislation, thus giving House members some comfort that the flawed legislation won’t become law without further modification.
But we know from 2016, if not before, that the normal rules don’t necessarily apply anymore. Thus, it’s plausible to think that even with all the arm-twisting and last-minute dealmaking going on, Speaker Ryan’s health insurance legislation won’t make it through the House.
The Washington Post reports that conservative House Republicans have rebuffed an offer by President Trump to strip a key set of mandates from Obamacare. Without the ascent of at least some of these conservatives, Speaker Ryan won’t have the votes to pass his bill.
As I understand it, the conservative bloc wants all Obamacare mandates stripped from the legislation except the ones that bar insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. Some conservatives want these mandates removed, as well.
Although Ryan has found some mandates to strip, he reportedly isn’t willing to go far enough. He cites the prospect that the Senate won’t even take up the legislation because the parliamentarian would say the broad mandate-stripping cannot accomplished through reconciliation.
But if no compromise can be found, wouldn’t Ryan be better off passing legislation that the Senate refuses to take up, thanks to the parliamentarian, than not passing legislation and suffering a hugely embarrassing defeat at the hands of his caucus?
UPDATE: House leaders reportedly have canceled the vote on the AHCA, which was to have taken place tonight. There was no immediate word when the vote might happen.
Politico’s report suggests that the conservative bloc is holding out for the repeal of all Obamacare mandates, even the one on covering preexisting conditions. I don’t know whether this is true.
If it is, I don’t see how Trump and Ryan can compromise on preexisting conditions. They have said that this mandate should be retained, which has been the consistent Republican position, and the mandate has widespread support among voters, I believe.