Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speak about the American Health Care Act, the Republican replacement to Obamacare, at the Republican National Committee in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
House Republican leadership said discussions on repealing and replacing Obamacare are ongoing, but it’s unlikely legislation will hit the floor before they break for recess April 7.
In the wake of the bill being pulled from the floor Friday, due to a lack of consensus between members of the House Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group, lawmakers have been meeting in an attempt to strike a deal on the legislation.
While a number of rank-and file members remain hopeful the bill will brought back up in coming days, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said he the timeline on when they will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act remains unclear.
“There’s no vote planned,” he told reporters Wednesday. “A lot of members are talking, which is a good thing, but there’s no vote.”
Scalise, who led information sessions in the weeks leading up to the bill’s introduction, said the discussions he’s had with lawmakers have been constructive, but they are still not there yet.
“I’m always talking to members, and I’m hearing from a lot of them who bring ideas to me which is encouraging,” he continued. ” I think it’s just a lot of good conversations that people are having and a lot of members are coming up with their own ideas too, which is good.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed he doesn’t have anything on the schedule — despite wanting to get the legislation passed sooner rather than later — as they still don’t have the votes.
“As soon as we have it figured out we’ll have the vote,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We’re just listening to people and seeing where we can go.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who said he hasn’t heard whether a vote is being considered next week, said he has been talking to Tuesday Group Co-Chairman Tom MacArthur on a regular basis, but there are no meetings scheduled between the two groups.
“I think at this point, most of my conversations have been, in fact all of my conversations have been on a one-on-one basis,” Meadows said, adding he doesn’t care whether it’s a new bill or conservative changes to the American Health Care Act.
“My preference is getting a deal done that lowers premiums, so I don’t care if we write it on the back of a napkin, if it lowers premiums and gets the job done that’s my preference,” he told reporters.
While leadership said there is nothing on the docket next week, GOP aides said members could be mum on calling a vote as a precaution, looking to assure they won’t have to pull the bill off the floor twice.
Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk said he expects something to move quickly, adding he believes they have been getting closer to getting the votes needed since last week.
“I think we’re going to see some action on it next week,” said in a Facebook live video Wednesday. “We will repeal and replace Obamacare, it’s going to happen. Bear with us, patience, it’s been out there for seven years — it’g going to take a long time to get this thing out.”
Republicans on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, one of the two committees that helped craft the American Health Care Association, are set to meet before the GOP conference meeting early Thursday morning.
“We’re approaching the Easter season,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden told Bloomberg. “Some things rise from the dead.”
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