Friday, March 24, 2017
Trump ULTIMATUM: Vote On Health Care Friday Or Obamacare STAYS
Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney made clear Thursday evening that President Donald Trump is done negotiating on the hotly-debated health care bill and wants a vote on Friday.
And, if the president doesn't get a vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, he will move on to other priorities, Mulvaney said according to a source in the room during the tense talks with GOP members. A senior administration source confirms to NBC News the "very definitive, very clarifying" message from the president and the administration's intention to move on — should the health care bill fail to move forward — to other matters such as tax reform, trade and border security.
If the bill does not pass, the president would see it as "people in Congress breaking their promises to their constituents to repeal and replace Obamacare" even with a Republican president in the White House," the source told NBC News.
It was a long night for Trump aides who worked late to try and convince conservative House Freedom Caucus members to support the health care bill. Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor, met with the group's members to deliver a pointed message: stand and deliver.
Republican leadership worked to underscore the message.
"For seven and a half years, we have been promising to repeal and replace this broken law because it is collapsing and failing families," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday evening. "And tomorrow we are proceeding."
Trump and Ryan spoke for 45 minutes Thursday night, sources said. The conversation was described as an "entirely positive call."
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, a member of the whip team, said he believed Trump's ultimatum is "credible" and predicted the bill's passage during Friday's vote. He added he isn't worried about how the Senate would respond.
Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who helped to usher the GOP health care plan through the process, agreed with Trump's decision to cut off negotiations.
"I think it was time to have pencils down — time to move forward," Walden told reporters Thursday night.
But those undecided in their support were not necessarily ready to move forward.
"I always think if there's any change whatsoever that we can make the bill better than we should never stop negotiations," said Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona conservative who isn't yet supporting the measure. "Now there is a time that those negotiations should stop, but let that not be arbitrary let that be on the timetable itself."
Trump's latest salvo comes after House Republican leaders abruptly postponed a planned vote on the GOP health care bill Thursday as they struggled to find sufficient support to pass it.
The move to delay the vote came after House conservatives said there was no deal struck on the bill following a meeting with President Trump at the White House Thursday. According to the NBC News vote count as of Thursday evening, GOP leaders were still at least eight votes short of winning enough backing for passage.
The president's latest posture came as news to Rep. Mark Meadows R-North Carolina, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who earlier told reporters that there was no deal after the meeting, but added he was still hopeful one can be struck.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday afternoon that the administration does not feel it needs a "plan B".
House leaders and various Republican factions have worked in recent days to find a deal on the American Health Care Act, supported by Ryan, that would appease enough moderates and conservatives to win enough backing to get the legislation passed.
The moderate members, known as the "Tuesday Group", met with President Trump at the White House Thursday evening. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Ryan met with the conservative members in an effort to get consensus.
The conservative members' demands include the repeal of allowing kids to stay on their parents insurance until 26 and a ban on pre-existing conditions in addition to a repeal of the Essential Benefits Package, or ESP, which includes insurance coverage requirements such as maternity care, hospital care, mental health services and emergency care. The White House wouldn't budge on the pre-existing conditions and insurance until 26, but offered allowing the states the option to remove the ESPs.
Additional changes were made to the bill including keeping a .9 percent Medicare tax on high income earners, a fee that is expected to raise $15 billion. That money will be added into state funds that would now total $115 billion, to help high risk patients in move aimed at to appeasing moderates.
There are currently at least 31 Republicans who say they will not vote for the Trump-backed legislation. Among the latest is Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Washington.
"While I appreciate this week's effort by Speaker Ryan and his leadership team to better protect older Americans from health-care cost increases, the difficulties this bill would create for millions of children were left unaddressed," Herrera Beutler said in a statement Thursday.
Ryan huddled with moderate Republicans Wednesday night for two-and-a-half hours over pizza and snacks to hash out a way to move forward. But as rank-and-file members filed out, many taking a back way to avoid the press, they revealed little amid indications the negotiations had not gone well.
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania., released a statement after the meeting announcing that he'd vote "no."
"I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low-to-moderate income and older individuals," Dent said.
The tenor of the negotiations changed Wednesday evening after the White House, responsible for negotiating with the conservatives while Ryan was tasked with the moderates, told critical members that they'd consider their demands. Those demands include removing the Essential Health Benefits, an Obamacare provision that requires insurance plans cover a minimum number of services, including maternity care, emergency room care, hospitalization, mental health care and more.
"It is our leadership team that has set an arbitrary deadline — we are happy to keep working with the White House and the leadership team but we don't think the arbitrary deadline of (Thursday) really means anything," said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, who is voting against the bill unless desired changes are made.
The intense negotiations come as outside groups are putting more pressure on lawmakers.
The Charles and David Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners have reserved "seven figures" to reward members who oppose the bill. The development came as Trump told Republicans a day earlier that they'd be lose their seats if they voted against the Republican plan. And another conservative group, Club for Growth, is running television ads in some Republican districts to push members to vote against it.