By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Republicans in Congress failed to gain enough support to put the American Health Care Act to a vote on Friday, March 24, 2017. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan discussed with President Donald Trump the lack of votes, and they agreed to pull the bill. Conservatives in the House of Representatives, the Freedom Caucus prevented the GOP from fulfilling their pledge to voters to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Freedom Caucus was not the only faction in the House to oppose the new bill. The bill faced opposition and criticism all around, and as Speaker Ryan pointed out, the AHCA was “so fundamentally flawed.”
The following is a timeline of the two weeks the American Health Care Act’s existence until the bill’s demise:
March 6: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price introduce the American Health Care Act with Ryan presenting a PowerPoint presentation to explain the new bill.
March 7: House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, criticizes the GOP’s bill, calling it “Obamacare in a different form.”
March 13: The Congressional Budget Committee (CBO) releases a report on the AHCA indicating that 14 million Americans would lose health care coverage in 2018 with the new bill. The number would jump to 24 million in 2026, leaving 52 million Americans uninsured. The CBO report, however, indicates that the deficit will be reduced by $337 billion in the next nine years. The CBO attributes the rise in uninsured to the bill not having a penalty for those who do not obtain insurance coverage.
House Republicans voice their objections to the bill; still, it advances with votes in the Ways and Means and Budget Committees.
March 20: Congressional Republicans introduced changes to AHCA to entice reluctant Republicans to vote for the bill. The changes included faster repeal of Obamacare taxes, additional tax credits for health plans that do not include abortions, “lowering the threshold for medical expenses.” The changes also provide the states with more funds for the elderly and disabled but prevents them participating expanding Medicaid.
March 21: President Donald Trump goes to Capitol Hill to convince Republicans to vote for the AHCA. Trump met in a 40-minute closed-door meeting with Congressional Republicans, where he told them the party would be vulnerable in the 2018 midterm election and would be “fools” if they do not pass the AHCA. Afterward, Trump told the press, “We had a great meeting and I think we’re going to get a winner vote. It was a great meeting, we have terrific people and they want a tremendous healthcare plan — and that’s what we have. And there are going to be adjustments, but I think we’ll get the vote on Thursday.”
President Trump specifically singled out Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chair of the Freedom Caucus and the GOP biggest opponent to the bill. Supposedly, Trump told Meadows “I’m going to come after you.” The President referred to the 2018 elections.
March 22: Congressional Republicans hold more meetings discussing the scheduled vote. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-PA, head of “the Tuesday Group of center-right Republicans” announces he will not vote for the AHCA. The Freedom caucus meets twice. Later, Meadows tells the press, “We’re still negotiating, we’re all trying to get to ‘yes.'”
March 23: Congress is scheduled to vote on the AHCA on March 23, which happens to be the seventh anniversary that Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010 with only Democrats voting for former President Barack Obama’s health care bill. The date would be symbolic if the GOP would succeed in repealing and replacing Obamacare.
In the morning, President Trump meets with House Freedom Caucus at the White House. They fail to gain a consensus on the bill. In the afternoon, the president meets with the Tuesday Group at the White House. Afterward, GOP leadership postpones the vote on the AHCA until the next day on Friday, March 24. The House Republican Caucus meets after the vote is delayed. President Trump issues an ultimatum to the House GOP, telling them they must pass the bill on Friday.
The CBO releases a revised report to match the new revisions to the bill. The report determines that fewer Americans will be uninsured because of the changes, but 150 million will be added to the deficit-cutting the previous deficit cut by nearly a half.
In the evening, the “House Rules Committee passed another amendment to the bill.”
March 24: The House begins formally debating the bill in the morning. Throughout the morning, more Republicans announce they will not vote for the bill, including the influential, “Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.”
At half past noon, Speaker Ryan goes to the White House to brief President Trump in a meeting that lasts an hour and twenty minutes. At 3 p.m. Ryan calls Trump notifying him that he does not have enough votes to pass the AHCA. The call is when President Trump tells Ryan to withdraw the bill. A half hour later the Ryan formally adjourns the House and the bill’s failure goes public.
Source: ABC News Radio Online