Tension, confusion in GOP health care talks

A powerful network of conservative donors, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, have vowed financial support to House Republicans in their 2018 reelection races - if they vote against the health-care bill backed by the Trump administration.

As Meadows suggested, the changes conservatives want could cause moderates to abandon the bill en masse, not only in the House but also in the Senate, though the Freedom Caucus is counting on leadership to keep those House members in line.

The Trump administration is now short the votes needed to repeal and replace on Obamacare in a vote that could define Donald Trump's presidency. Trump has continued to reach out to Meadows since, through phone calls, but not without any success, as the lawmaker told The Washington Post he doesn't have a formal offer from the White House yet.

Mr Trump told Republicans at the meeting that after voting repeatedly to repeal the healthcare law and campaigning previous year on doing so, they had an obligation to back the Bill and would lose their majority if they "blow it", attendees said. But it's clear as of midday that they still don't have the votes to pass it - and moves aimed at wooing hardline conservatives have done as much to alienate moderates as win new right-wing votes. "Taxes will be removed and repealed that were a part of the Affordable Care Act and within that, there's issues regarding tax credits and a stability fund for states to help with high-risk pools and to help with premium support and Medicaid". Rand Paul (R-KY) predicted the bill's failure, with an estimated 30 to 35 House Republicans opposing its passage.

As of early Thursday, The New York Times reported 29 Republicans will vote "no", CBS News reported 31 Republicans said they can not support the bill in its current form and CNN reported 24 Republicans plan to vote "no".

Several Republican members of Congress have been critical of the bill, saying it maintains too many elements of Obamacare, including Kentucky Sen.

"What we believe is that we can do better and hopefully if we do better it will lower premiums", said Meadows.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, responding to questions about not having enough votes ahead of Thursday's vote on the bill, leaned on the Capitol Hill experience shared by Mulvaney and Price.

As President Donald Trump makes his final push to seal the deal with Republicans before the House votes Thursday on its bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, one Republican congressman opposed to the bill has a dire warning for the President.

Trump has put his own credibility and deal-making skills on the line for the measure, but he has also suggested he could single out lawmakers and make their lives hard if they defy him.

"I think the chances for getting the bill done after this week get smaller". And a Freedom Caucus aide said Wednesday that the now have more than 25 no votes and are "asking leadership to start over".

The normally well-scripted House, which runs on tight rules that lay out the duration of debates on legislation and approximate times for votes, was anything but scripted on Thursday. Republicans still did not know exactly what would be in the legislation as they negotiated with undecided colleagues. The Freedom Caucus, which had stubbornly opposed the GOP bill for days, was suddenly optimistic that a deal was possible. Estimates say Trumpcare is expected to leave 24 million Americans without insurance by 2026.

"I sure hope" they understand that, Dent replied.

  • Joanne Flowers