Trump threatens to 'move on' if House fails to vote on Obamacare repeal today

When President Trump and the Republican leadership on the Hill introduced the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace Obamacare earlier this month, the legislation drew immediate opposition – and not just from Democrats. A phalanx of conservatives in the House lined up against it, putting passage of the bill in immediate jeopardy.

So President Trump did what all presidents before him have done when an important legislative initiative gets in trouble on the Hill: he put the power and prestige of his office behind the effort to pass the legislation.  He became personally and intimately involved in negotiations to get more conservatives on board.  He not only lobbied from the White House, but actually made a pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to plead his cause in front of the entire GOP caucus.

But nose-counters on the Hill are saying all the president's efforts may have been in vain.  There are at least 28 GOP House members who will definitely vote against the bill, according to the latest whip count.  Up to 21 Republicans could vote against the bill while still assuring that the 216-vote threshold was reached.  That means the president is still seven votes short of passage.

After Speaker Ryan postponed action on the bill yesterday because of a lack of "yes" votes, President Trump gave reluctant conservatives an ultimatum: pass the bill today, or I will move on to other issues on my agenda.

The Hill:

President Trump warned House Republicans on Thursday that he will leave ObamaCare in place unless they approve legislation to repeal and replace it.

Trump officials meeting with the House GOP conference said Trump is done negotiating over the legislation, which was set to come up for a vote Thursday but was delayed. 

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the House Freedom Caucus that has been negotiating with Trump, told the GOP conference that Trump wants a vote on Friday during a dramatic closed-door meeting, according to a GOP source in the room. 

If the vote fails, Trump will move on to other priorities and ObamaCare will stay as the law of the land, Mulvaney said.

The developments set up a likely vote on the measure Friday afternoon. 

Dozens of Republicans have vowed to oppose the bill, putting them into a direct confrontation with their president.

With all of the House's Democrats expected to vote against the bill, the GOP can only afford 22 defections.

The House will be voting on a modified bill.

A managers amendment to be released Thursday night that would repeal ObamaCare's essential health benefits, which require insurers to offer coverage in certain areas. Conservatives have demanded this change, saying it will lower premium costs.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) confirmed the Trump administration's message after the meeting. Trump is done negotiating, he said. 

"We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass, but he's moving on if for some reason it didn't," Collins said.

The congressman also summarized Mulvaney's message, saying the administration was determined to get a vote.

"If for any reason it's down, we're just going to move forward with additional parts of our agenda," Collins said Mulvaney told the House GOP. "This is our moment in time. The president is insisting on a vote tomorrow one way or the other," Collins said, quoting Mulvaney.

This is a big gamble by the president, but not unprecedented.  By putting his personal prestige and the prestige of the presidency on the line, he is daring opponents of the bill to make him look weak and ineffective in his first major foray into the legislative arena.  It will not only weaken his presidency (it won't destroy it as critics claim), but make House Republicans look weak, too. 

The president is cracking the whip by putting pressure on reluctant conservatives to help him maintain his momentum to reform Washington.  He has already accomplished some needed regulatory reform, and some of his executive orders have dramatically altered policies in place for the last eight years.

But those efforts would be seen as only a partial victory unless he can galvanize conservative support to pass his signature legislation.  If there is failure, his tax reform, his infrastructure plans, and other aspects of his agenda will be in serious trouble. 

Conservatives in the House could be cutting the legs out from under the Trump presidency unless they respond positively to his appeals.

When President Trump and the Republican leadership on the Hill introduced the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace Obamacare earlier this month, the legislation drew immediate opposition – and not just from Democrats. A phalanx of conservatives in the House lined up against it, putting passage of the bill in immediate jeopardy.

So President Trump did what all presidents before him have done when an important legislative initiative gets in trouble on the Hill: he put the power and prestige of his office behind the effort to pass the legislation.  He became personally and intimately involved in negotiations to get more conservatives on board.  He not only lobbied from the White House, but actually made a pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to plead his cause in front of the entire GOP caucus.

But nose-counters on the Hill are saying all the president's efforts may have been in vain.  There are at least 28 GOP House members who will definitely vote against the bill, according to the latest whip count.  Up to 21 Republicans could vote against the bill while still assuring that the 216-vote threshold was reached.  That means the president is still seven votes short of passage.

After Speaker Ryan postponed action on the bill yesterday because of a lack of "yes" votes, President Trump gave reluctant conservatives an ultimatum: pass the bill today, or I will move on to other issues on my agenda.

The Hill:

President Trump warned House Republicans on Thursday that he will leave ObamaCare in place unless they approve legislation to repeal and replace it.

Trump officials meeting with the House GOP conference said Trump is done negotiating over the legislation, which was set to come up for a vote Thursday but was delayed. 

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the House Freedom Caucus that has been negotiating with Trump, told the GOP conference that Trump wants a vote on Friday during a dramatic closed-door meeting, according to a GOP source in the room. 

If the vote fails, Trump will move on to other priorities and ObamaCare will stay as the law of the land, Mulvaney said.

The developments set up a likely vote on the measure Friday afternoon. 

Dozens of Republicans have vowed to oppose the bill, putting them into a direct confrontation with their president.

With all of the House's Democrats expected to vote against the bill, the GOP can only afford 22 defections.

The House will be voting on a modified bill.

A managers amendment to be released Thursday night that would repeal ObamaCare's essential health benefits, which require insurers to offer coverage in certain areas. Conservatives have demanded this change, saying it will lower premium costs.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) confirmed the Trump administration's message after the meeting. Trump is done negotiating, he said. 

"We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass, but he's moving on if for some reason it didn't," Collins said.

The congressman also summarized Mulvaney's message, saying the administration was determined to get a vote.

"If for any reason it's down, we're just going to move forward with additional parts of our agenda," Collins said Mulvaney told the House GOP. "This is our moment in time. The president is insisting on a vote tomorrow one way or the other," Collins said, quoting Mulvaney.

This is a big gamble by the president, but not unprecedented.  By putting his personal prestige and the prestige of the presidency on the line, he is daring opponents of the bill to make him look weak and ineffective in his first major foray into the legislative arena.  It will not only weaken his presidency (it won't destroy it as critics claim), but make House Republicans look weak, too. 

The president is cracking the whip by putting pressure on reluctant conservatives to help him maintain his momentum to reform Washington.  He has already accomplished some needed regulatory reform, and some of his executive orders have dramatically altered policies in place for the last eight years.

But those efforts would be seen as only a partial victory unless he can galvanize conservative support to pass his signature legislation.  If there is failure, his tax reform, his infrastructure plans, and other aspects of his agenda will be in serious trouble. 

Conservatives in the House could be cutting the legs out from under the Trump presidency unless they respond positively to his appeals.

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