Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

Conservative Lawmakers Push for Changes to ACA Replacement Before Floor Vote

Conservative Lawmakers Push for Changes to ACA Replacement Before Floor Vote

With the defections, the bill just barely passed out of the committee 19-17.

But on Thursday the group of 22 Republicans, some of them out of step with the party's leadership, came one vote short of offering Ryan and House leadership a stunning political defeat.

"I'm confident that we have still enough concerns that a vote of 216 votes in the House would not happen today", said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, the Freedom Caucus chairman.

A good number of moderate Republicans in the House don't want to vote for this (for the very same reason Democrats want a recorded vote) - but frankly, aside from the Freedom Caucus, they would have a hard time passing something that takes away Medicaid benefits or hurts people in their own state (in other words, they can not really support any GOP bill).

President Donald Trump is expected to make an appearance at the House GOP conference meeting Tuesday in an attempt to sway members to vote for the legislation. And he said he does not expect the Freedom Caucus to vote on a formal position against the bill.

The Freedom Caucus doesn't have an official membership list, but it reportedly includes roughly 40 GOP members of Congress.

But the Idaho Republican said that now that leaders and the White House are indicating to them and others that no major changes will be added "it means the bill is going to fail".

Three Republicans from the vocal House Freedom Caucus - Reps.

"This bill eliminates the many taxes and mandates of Obamacare, gives patients enhanced tools to take control of their healthcare decisions and expands choice so that Americans are free to pick the plan that is best for themselves and their families", he said. Larger in number but softer in tone than their conservative counterparts, moderate Republicans are shaping up to be at least as big a hurdle to achieving the long-held goal of repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a more market-oriented series of policies.

The underlying theme of the Tuesday Group Republicans is to make their voices heard quietly, in the speaker's office or on the House floor, to try keep the bill from going too far to the right. "Maybe we'll get one along the way".

Republicans, meanwhile, pushed provisions that would allow states to run their Medicaid programs as they see fit, while requiring able-bodied enrollees to work in exchange for benefits. It then must pass a Senate where conservatives and moderates are also at odds, and which has even less margin for error as Republicans hold only a 52-48 majority.

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash said he's prepared to stand by his position on the legislation if changes aren't made, even if he faces vast pressure from the president.

"Clearly the main parts of this bill are going to stay exactly as they are but we're making improvements and refinements", he said.

Several conservatives leaving the Monday night meeting were briefed on the changes that GOP leaders were making to the bill in an effort to get broader support but they all told CNN that based on their early read on these they wouldn't be enough to get their support.

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