High stakes for Trump in vote on
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[March 23, 2017]
By Roberta Rampton and David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Donald Trump may face his first major legislative hurdle on Thursday: a
do-or-die vote in the House of Representatives on a plan that would roll
back the signature healthcare law of former President Barack Obama.
Trump has been billed by some lawmakers as "the closer" to seal the deal
on the replacement healthcare plan in a vote Republican leaders hoped to
hold on Thursday, but there were signs late on Wednesday night that the
deadline could be pushed back.
It was unclear whether Trump had convinced enough Republicans to back
the bill. That uncertainty has rattled financial markets.
Failure to pass the legislation, called the American Health Care Act,
would cast doubt on Trump's ability to deliver other parts of his agenda
that need the cooperation of the Republican-controlled Congress,
including ambitious plans to overhaul the tax code and invest in
Stocks on Tuesday posted their biggest one-day drop since the Nov. 8
presidential election on concerns about the healthcare drama.
The vote on the House floor had been initially expected by around 7 pm
(2300 GMT) on Thursday. But by midnight on Wednesday, lawmakers had not
yet settled on the timing of the vote as conservative and moderate
Republicans split on whether there should be additional changes to the
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said the vote could happen
as early as Thursday or as late as Monday.
Democratic representatives are united against the bill, which seeks to
repeal and replace Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan need strong support from their side of
the aisle on the bill, and can only afford to lose 21 Republican votes.
But conservative Republicans have complained about the replacement for
being too similar to Obamacare, and some moderate Republicans are
concerned it will hurt the health care coverage of millions of voters.
An aide to the conservative House Freedom Caucus said at one point on
Wednesday that more than 25 of its members were opposed to the plan. The
chairman of the group, Representative Mark Meadows, said negotiations
late on Wednesday were making headway.
Moderate Republicans huddled late into the evening in House Speaker Paul
Ryan's office. Afterwards, Representative Charlie Dent issued a
statement saying he could not back the bill.
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President Donald Trump walks from Marine One as he returns to the
White House in Washington. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Trump and fellow Republicans campaigned during last year's elections
on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, a program that aimed
to boost the number of Americans with health insurance through
mandates on individuals and employers, and income-based subsidies.
Republicans said Obamacare marked an excessive government intrusion
into the healthcare marketplace and blamed it for pushing insurance
premium costs higher.
Their replacement plan would rescind the taxes created by Obamacare,
repeal a penalty against people who do not buy coverage, slash
funding for the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled, and
modify tax subsidies that help individuals buy plans.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated 14 million
people would lose medical coverage under the Republican plan by next
year. It also said that 24 million fewer people would be insured by
Even if the legislation passes the House, its faces a second hurdle
in the Senate, where a number of Republicans have spoken out against
the House version.
Trump and Republican leaders have said they hope to have the bill
finalized in early April so Trump can sign it into law by the middle
of the month.
Click http://tmsnrt.rs/2nO7sj0 for graphic on How U.S. healthcare
stacks up under the ACA and AHCA
Click http://tmsnrt.rs/2nK4XBd for graphic on shifting positions in
the U.S. Senate on Republican healthcare bill
Click http://tmsnrt.rs/2mVy5Sh for graphic on healthcare reform
(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Jeff Mason; Editing by
Bill Rigby and Michael Perry)
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