Congressional leaders are in talks to make another attempt at passing the doomed American Health Care Act next week, according to a Bloomberg report.
Two House Republicans told Bloomberg that GOP leadership has been working with Freedom Caucus members as well as more moderate-minded lawmakers to find common ground in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Their previous attempt to pass the bill was scrapped before it ever got to a vote, citing a lack of support.
The news comes as the Republican party is ailing. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been unable to make progress on their campaign promises and the President is floundering in record-low approval numbers. Many expected swift action on healthcare, tax reform, and the budget, with the GOP controlling the entirety of the Federal government, but they have thus-far been unable to point in a common direction.
With a two-week recess coming on April 7th, Republicans seem desperate to return home with a major victory. While no one is on record committing to a deadline, several members expressed optimism. Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the House Freedom Caucus, said through a spokesperson that, “there’s a real commitment among members […] to not give up and move expeditiously toward a path forward.”
However, leaders in the Senate do not share the same optimism that the House can find unity. Majority leader Mitch McConnell told the press:
“It is pretty obvious we were not able in the House to pass a replacement. Our Democratic friends ought to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place and I think we’re just gonna have to see how that works out.”
The Republican health care plan was universally panned. Conservatives felt that the bill was simply a watered-down version of the Affordable Care Act, while moderates and Democrats felt that the plan stripped healthcare away from those who needed it most, without any real improvements to the country’s broken health care system. It is unclear what changes the GOP may make to the bill in order to get it passed.
President Trump invested a lot of time and effort into the bill and has faced increased public backlash (as if he need any more), along with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, over the party’s inability to overcome differences. The party is also struggling with passing a budget, with Trump requesting massive cuts to popular programs in order to fund his border wall. Those requests are unlikely to find much support in either the House or Senate. Congress is rushing to avoid a possible April 22nd government shutdown, if a budget is not passed.
While the Republicans have not enjoyed favorable optics in their failings, Democrats have likewise been unable to capitalize and gain favor in the general public. That said, Rep. John Conyers’ bill, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676), is starting to gain ground with 74 House Democrat co-sponsors. Bernie Sanders is working on a similar bill in the Senate. While the bills will likely not gain any real bipartisan traction, it could show a unified front from the left and could reenergize a base of voters that is desperate for something to rally around ahead of 2018’s midterm elections.