In a Thursday evening meeting with House Republicans following the postponement of the vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the America Health Care Act, an edict came from on high: vote for the health care bill or else Obamacare stays.
The New York Times reports that the “ultimatum” issued to Republicans dragging their feet on voting for the bill came via budget director Mitch Mulvaney.
As House leaders struggled to negotiate with holdouts in the hopes of rescheduling a vote as early as Friday, Mr. Trump dispatched senior officials to the Capitol with a blunt message: He would agree to no additional changes, and Republicans must either support the bill or resign themselves to leaving President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement in place.
NBC News reports that a senior administration source doubled down on this ultimatum, calling the message “very definitive, very clarifying” —if the bill doesn’t move forward after tomorrow’s vote, Trump will drop the issue and steamroll ahead to others.
As a businessman, Trump’s inability to close this deal has certainly been frustrating; in an earlier attempt to appease the extremely-conservative Freedom Caucus, Trump agreed to strip “federal health insurance requirements for basic benefits such as maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits from the bill,” making it an even bigger shit sandwich than it previously was. That wasn’t good enough and so the vote was postponed.
The Times reports that in private, White House officials agreed that the warring factions of the Republican Party could ultimately lead to this bill’s failure, given that even with the changes made to appease the Freedom Caucus. According to NBC’s source, if this bill doesn’t 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.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday evening, House Speaker Paul Ryan seemed confident, saying “For seven and a half years, we have been promising to repeal and replace this broken law because it is collapsing and failing families. And tomorrow we are proceeding.”
Spicey said to reporters Wednesday, there is no “Plan B” for what happens if this bill doesn’t pass. With this ultimatum for Republicans to fall in line or face the prospect of Obamacare staying in place, it looks like maybe there is.