On Thursday night, Donald Trump tired of the continuous stalling of the AHCA and delivered and ultimatum to the House Republicans. If the American Health Care Act doesn’t pass on Friday, other, more pressing, legislative issues will replace it.
Thursday night ultimatum
During a closed-door meeting, the president announced to his aides that he is no longer interested in waiting for House Speaker Paul Ryan to reach a consensus with other GOP members regarding the AHCA. Apart from considerable political capital, the controversial bill has also taken up a large portion of both Ryan and Trump’s time. Both have a host of more urgent situations to deal with.
As the day of reckoning approaches, the president’s famous negotiation skills will be put to the test. Trump boasted about his powers of persuasion during the elections, promising to tackle – and fix – the Affordable Care Act of 2010, infrastructure spending and a tax overhaul.
Not passing the ACHA would deal a significant blow to both President Trump and Speaker Ryan’s credibility, not to mention their egos. Their first attempt at passing a major legislation would forever be remembered as a bitter failure.
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 24, 2017
Defeat would also indirectly amount to a Democratic win as the ACA would remain in effect. While millions of Americans affected by the AHCA would be overjoyed to benefit from Medicaid’s intact funding and Obamacare’s equal rights stipulations, the Republicans would have to live with the shame of not being able to fulfill one of their most fervent campaign promises. The GOP has been trying to replace the Affordable Care Act for seven years.
Do They Have the Votes?
Despite overwhelming evidence that the new plan would leave millions without affordable care and even more with decreased coverage, the push for further negotiations comes from the House Freedom Caucus refusing to pass the bill. They are opposing it because it leaves too many of Obamacare’s insurance mandates intact. On Thursday, the President and his aides urged the GOP to come together and pass the bill. The plea fell on deaf ears as some moderates and all of the ultra-conservatives refused to budge.
“For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law, because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families. And tomorrow we’re proceeding.”
Rep. Chris Collins claims he overheard Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director, saying that the president “needs this.” No matter if the answer is a yay or nay, Trump wants a vote on Friday. Furthermore, Collins quoted Mulvaney saying that this is the time of the Republicans and that the failure of the AHCA would not sway their legislative agenda.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 24, 2017
The bright spot from the day came from Rep. Brian Mast. The GOP member is a double amputee – a bitter reminder of the Afghanistan war. The congressman managed to boost morale during the session. He took the floor, calling on his fellow GOP members to stand united as if they were back in the war, fighting a common enemy.
A couple of raucous Republicans followed his call to arms, chanting “burn the ships” as they were leaving the session. Their solidarity is commendable, but their approach has been described as that of a gang of bloodthirsty conquistadors. Is this really appropriate when the lives of millions of Americans are at stake?
As a vote draws closer, 24 million Americans who would be affected by the AHCA are holding their breath, waiting for the results of the vote.
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