White House Is Working With Congress To Amend Healthcare Bill

After yesterday's disappointing CBO scoring of the republican Obamacare repeal bill, which prompted loud protests from both the White House on Tuesday said it is working with House leadership on changes to the Obamacare repeal bill in the form of a “manager’s amendment,” which could alter the bill before it hits the House floor.

According to Reuters, when asked at today's regular briefing if the White House was in discussions with House leadership over "shaping a major or significant managers' amendment," spokesman Sean Spicer said: "Yes... We are obviously in talks with House leadership," he said of the discussions.

"As we have noted multiple times from the podium, when people have ideas that are constructive or supportive, or ones we’ve heard about from different members we’ve engaged with … we’ve always stated a willingness," Spicer said noting that “part of the reason we’re engaging with these individuals is to hear their ideas.”

"All of that is part of a comprehensive strategy to engage with members who support us, who have ideas, who want to be on board, who wanted to be constructive in the process."

Spicer added that the White House is "in talks with House leadership about the content," noting that President Trump will speak with both House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) later Tuesday afternoon to talk "about some of these ideas and a path forward." According to The Hill, a manager’s amendment is typically used after the traditional committee process to make changes to a bill to gain more support before a floor vote.

Speculation that one would be used increased as GOP members aired their opposition to the bill as it is. More conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus don't believe the legislation goes far enough to repeal ObamaCare.  Spicer pitched the amendment as a way to help forge a greater consensus on the legislation. But asked whether its existence is an admission the bill can't pass as is, Sean demurred, arguing that it's about forging a consensus. 

"That's not entirely true. I think it's an admission of what we stated at the beginning of this entire process, which was the president was going to engage with members to hear their ideas," Spicer said adding that "this has never been a ‘take it or leave it.’ … We want to get the strongest bill through the House with as many ideas and opinions and facts that will help strengthen this as possible."

Some Republicans also fear that moving to meet some concerns of the more conservative members could cost support from more moderate lawmakers in both the House and the Senate.  Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said it was "too early to discuss" any manager's amendment.

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, the architect of Trumpcare, House Speaker Paul Ryan, said he doesn't plan to make major changes to Republicans’ plan to replace Obamacare, even as the White House effectively contracited him. House leadership is “working on getting that consensus” with Republicans in both chambers, Ryan said on Fox News Monday evening. Ryan said he expected the score to show fewer people covered under a plan that doesn’t include a mandate to buy insurance, and he highlighted the deficit reduction and lower premiums in the long term.

“Actually I think if you read this entire report, I’m pretty encouraged by it, it actually exceeded my expectations,” Ryan told Fox’s Bret Baier Monday.

Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and an opponent of Ryan’s plan, said, "I think we’re making real good progress with the White House and leadership, and I’m optimistic that we’ll see some good results in less than a week." Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are speaking with President Donald Trump by telephone Tuesday afternoon to discuss the next steps.

For now, however, what shape the bill will take next is anyone's guess: Senator Roy Blunt said Tuesday that he thinks the House will alter the bill before it gets sent to Senate. "And the plan will be open to change here," the Missouri Republican said as he headed into a lunch with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price



 

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