MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There will be no vote Thursday night on the Republican plan to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law, delivering a significant setback for President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“We have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and failing families and tomorrow we’re proceeding,” Ryan said before walking back behind closed doors where House Republicans were meeting late Thursday with hopes of finding common ground.
The move signals Republicans didn’t have enough votes in the House to pass the bill, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Under the plan, the Minnesota Department of Human Services estimates more than a million Minnesotans could lose or have their health care coverage reduced within a year.
Of Minnesota’s three Republican members of Congress, only Representative Erik Paulsen told WCCO he would vote for the bill. While Rep. Paulsen was a yes, Rep. Jason Lewis, through a representative, indicated Thursday he was likely to vote for the president’s bill.
But a clear indication of the trouble facing the measure is that one of President Trump’s biggest supporters, Rep. Tom Emmer, is not on board. Emmer was one of the only members of Minnesota’s Republican establishment to support Trump during the presidential campaign, even speaking at a rally in the Twin Cities two days before the election.
On Thursday, Emmer said he was unsure how he would vote on the AHCA, saying through a representative: “We do not know what the final bill may look like, so we do not have an official position at this time.”
Congressman Emmer is among the dozens of conservative Republicans in Congress expressing reservations or outright opposition to President Trump’s proposal to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Among the concerns is a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that found 24 million Americans could lose their coverage in the next 10 years under the bill.
Other members of Congress are concerned about a likely increase in premiums for seniors and a 30 percent tax penalty for anyone who allows their coverage to lapse.
While most Republicans are praising the plan for its projected reduction of the federal budget deficit, a postponed vote indicates concern about a voter backlash.
“For many Republicans across the country, they are representing people and receiving votes from people who will be most heavily impacted by the repeal of this,” professor David Schultz of Hamline University said.
Even Republicans who had expressed concern about the AHCA praised the projected $300 billion the bill would save taxpayers over 10 years, but late Thursday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office cut the savings in half to $150 billion.
Republicans say the earliest a vote could now come is Friday, but there’s still no word on whether any changes will be made to the bill.