Risky House healthcare vote to test
Trump's negotiating skills
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[March 24, 2017]
By Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Donald Trump on Friday faces the first concrete test of how well the
deal-making skills he honed in his real estate business will translate
on Capitol Hill in a high-stakes vote on new Republican health care
The House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill to replace
Obamacare late on Friday afternoon. The bill, backed by Trump, has
proved a tough sell to both conservative and moderate factions in his
own Republican party.
Democrats in the House are dead set against the bill, and it was unclear
late on Thursday night whether Republican leaders had enough support
from their own members to pass it, despite a series of last-minute
sweeteners intended to broaden its appeal.
It is the first foray into legislation for Trump, a New York Republican
businessman and reality television star known for his book, "The Art of
the Deal." He had not held public office before winning the Nov. 8
The vote on the American Health Care Act had originally been set for
Thursday. In an embarrassing setback, it was postponed because of the
By Thursday evening, Trump signaled he was done negotiating and demanded
lawmakers support the bill, or face the consequences.
"The message is ... it's done tomorrow, or Obamacare stays," said
Representative Chris Collins of New York, a Trump ally.
Replacing the signature health care plan of former Democratic President
Barack Obama was a key campaign pledge for Trump and Republicans, who
viewed Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act as overly intrusive and
Obamacare aimed to boost the number of Americans with health insurance
through mandates on individuals and employers, and income-based
subsidies. Some 20 million Americans gained insurance coverage through
The House replacement plan would rescind 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.
Conservatives felt the bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare
and moderates felt the plan could hurt their constituents.
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Trump holds healthcare meeting at the White House in Washington.
House leaders agreed to four pages of last-minute amendments,
including allowing states to choose which "essential benefits" are
required in insurance plans, keeping a 0.9 percent surcharge on
Medicare for high-income Americans for six years, and giving states
more money for maternal health and mental health.
It was unclear whether that was enough to win over skeptics.
During the past few weeks, Trump has remarked that healthcare was
more complicated than he expected and has said he looks forward to
moving on to other priorities like tax cuts and trade deals.
But a defeat in the vote will cast doubt on his ability to work with
Congress to deliver on tax reform and infrastructure investments.
Uncertainty over the healthcare bill rattled financial markets this
week as investors worried that failure to push it through could
postpone other business-friendly Trump priorities.
Even if the House passes the plan on Friday, the legislation faces
an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The House and Senate had hoped to deliver a new healthcare bill to
Trump by April 8, when Congress is scheduled to begin a two-week
(Additional reporting by David Morgan, David Lawder, and Amanda
Becker; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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