by: Sam Zukin
On Mar. 24, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, announced the withdrawal of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) after meeting with President Donald Trump, as the bill failed to garner enough House Republican votes to pass. The House of Representatives was set to vote for the bill on Thurs., Mar. 23, but Republican leaders delayed it as they could not find enough votes for passage. The House Rules Committee, which is responsible for determining what bills go to the House floor, did not clear it until the morning of Mar. 24 before finally sending it to the House floor for a final debate and vote. With the strong and united opposition of Democrats and the disapproval of moderate and conservative Republicans alike, the bill ultimately failed before it reached a vote.
The Freedom Caucus, a congressional caucus consisting of conservative Republican members of the House of Representatives, was largely against the new healthcare reform, and a majority of them were set to vote against it. Many of them were opposed to the new bill as they thought it did not go far enough to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that it failed to reduce its taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. Justin Amash, a House of Representative member from Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, believes that the AHCA “repackages Obamacare and avoids meaningful reforms.” He further added that the bill “doesn’t reduce healthcare costs” and is essentially “Obamacare 2.0.” The Freedom Caucus made a pact to stick together and not change their votes unless they consulted with each other first, therefore damaging the chances for the bill to pass.
This is a major legislative failure for the Republican Party as President Trump addressed repealing Obamacare as one of his top priorities during his campaign and administration. He now wants to move on to other pressing political issues. Trump told Time that “I’ll probably be going right now for tax reform, which we could have done earlier, but this really would have worked out better if we could have had some Democratic support. So, now we’re going to go for tax reform which I’ve always liked.”
Many have questioned Ryan’s leadership due to the healthcare debacle and wonder if he possesses the strength to whip up votes. Jeanine Pirro, a former prosecutor and legal analyst, declared that “Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House. He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill.”
On the other hand, Democrats see this as a victory for their party, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying that “today is a great day for the American people.” US Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, declared, “the defeat of the disastrous Trump-Ryan health care bill is a major victory work working class families.”
Obamacare will remain intact for the expected future of America’s healthcare system while Congress tackles other controversial political issues.
(Sources: JTA, Heavy.com, San Diego Tribune, NY Times, TIME)