Health Bill Short of Votes, GOP Leaders Look to Trump - NBC 7 San Diego
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

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Health Bill Short of Votes, GOP Leaders Look to Trump

The bill cuts a slew of taxes, mostly to the benefit of the rich

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The White House and Republican lawmakers spent Tuesday defending the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act after a report released by the Congressional Budget Office predicted a loss in coverage for 24 million Americans should the American Health Care Act pass into law. (Published Tuesday, March 14, 2017)

    Short of votes for their health care bill, Republican congressional leaders turned to President Donald Trump on Thursday to wrangle support for the divisive legislation they hope to push through Congress before Easter.

    But Trump sounded more like he was at the start of a negotiation than ready to close the deal. And combined with opposition from Republicans of all stripes, the president's flexible stance suggested final passage of the bill could be delayed, potentially exposing the legislation to the same kind of extended public backlash that undermined former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act from the start.

    "It's very preliminary," the president said of the House GOP bill in a Fox News Channel interview Wednesday, when questioned about reports the legislation would help Democratic voters more than those who elected him. "A lot of things aren't consistent. But these are going to be negotiated. ... We will take care of our people or I'm not signing it, OK, just so you understand."

    The House Budget Committee narrowly voted Thursday to advance the troubled Republican health bill, with defections by three GOP conservatives underscoring the obstacles party leaders face in maneuvering to avoid a stinging setback to their showpiece legislation after seven years of promises to repeal and replace "Obamacare."

    Understanding the GOP's 'Obamacare' Replacement

    [NATL] Understanding the GOP's 'Obamacare' Replacement

    On Monday, congressional Republicans released their bill that would dismantle much of the Affordable Care Act, called "Obamacare." The plan calls for the government to play a smaller health care role but does keep some key provisions of former President Obama's health care overhaul.

    (Published Tuesday, March 7, 2017)

    In another warning signal, four GOP governors wrote congressional leaders saying the beleaguered bill would not work for their states.

    Govs. John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas said the legislation "provides almost no new flexibility for states," fails to ensure enough resources to protect vulnerable residents and shifts significant new costs to states.

    A copy of the letter was provided to The Associated Press.

    The House GOP bill repeals elements of the Obama law, including the "individual mandate" that penalizes people who don't have insurance. It sets up a new system of tax credits that is less generous, particularly to older Americans. It eliminates some of Obamacare's requirements for services health plans need to cover, and it sunsets an expansion of Medicaid over several years, an element causing great consternation with moderate-leaning Republicans but one that conservatives want to move up faster.

    The bill also cuts a slew of taxes, mostly to the benefit of the rich. Conservatives say it doesn't go far enough in repealing the Obama-era law in full, and an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found 24 million people would lose their health insurance over a decade though the bill would also reduce the deficit.

    Republicans in the Budget Committee pushed nonbinding proposals to phase out the Medicaid expansion more rapidly, help low-income people more with tax credits and require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to meet work requirements. The provisions seemed a window into votes that leaders think may be needed to win support from conservatives.

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    [NATL] Steve Bannon Out as White House Chief Strategist

    Steve Bannon has departed the White House, where he was President Donald Trump’s chief strategist. His tenure lasted seven months. White House chief of staff John Kelly and Bannon mutually agreed that Friday would be Bannon’s last day, according to a statement from the press secretary that said they were “grateful for his service.”

    (Published Friday, Aug. 18, 2017)

    "Anyone not willing to work, let him not eat," asserted Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, in support of the Medicaid work requirement, saying he was citing scripture.

    House conservatives say they are negotiating some changes directly with the White House, cutting out House GOP leaders, while rebellious GOP senators were stoking the opposition.

    Nevertheless, House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to strike an optimistic tone as he addressed reporters Thursday for his weekly press briefing.

    "We feel like we're making great strides and great progress on getting a bill that can pass," Ryan said.

    But Ryan did not commit to a timetable for passage, and his acknowledgment that the bill needs changes to pass was itself a change. Last week, Ryan was pledging action next week by the House Rules Committee — the precursor to a floor vote — and confidently predicting the bill would have the votes to pass.

    Instead, Ryan spent part of his news conference disputing suggestions that he and Trump are at odds over the health bill, rumblings that originate with Ryan's very reluctant support for Trump during the presidential campaign.

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    [NATL] Dems, GOP Condemn Trump for 'Both Sides' Blame Game as Hundreds Mourn Charlottesville Victims

    Lawmakers and business leaders from both sides of the aisle are criticizing President Donald Trump's comments blaming "both sides" for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, with three dead and dozens more injured. This, as hundreds gathered to mourn at the University of Virginia Wednesday night.

    (Published Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017)

    "There is no intrigue, palace intrigue, divisions between the principals ... there really is no schism whatsoever," Ryan insisted. "I'm excited at the fact that we have a president who likes closing deals."

    But some conservatives, having ousted the last House speaker, were beginning to grumble openly about Ryan's leadership. "Maybe Paul Ryan needs to take a couple of lessons from Nancy Pelosi and learn what it means to have a majority. Having a majority does not mean playing defense," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, referring to the House Democratic leader who was speaker when Obamacare passed.

    By many accounts Trump has been closely involved in negotiations on the health bill, including calling Budget Committee members ahead of Thursday's vote, but he is seen as focused on delivering his "repeal and replace" promise and flexible on the fine print.

    Failing to pass a bill while his party controls both the House and Senate would be a devastating blow to his party and the premise of his presidency — that he was a dealmaker the country needed.