Cantor: 'This health bill can be defeated'

House Minority Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement MORE (R-Va.) proclaimed Wednesday morning after meeting with his conference that "this healthcare bill can be defeated."

The second-ranking House Republican uttered those words as key Democratic leaders met with President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump's tariffs are a case of crony capitalism Obama to visit Kenya, South Africa for Obama Foundation in July Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE at the White House in order to salvage what remains of House and Senate negotiations on a final healthcare bill.

ADVERTISEMENT
Cantor explained that he had spent an hour Wednesday huddling behind closed doors with members of his own conference, strategizing on how to defeat the president's landmark domestic initiative.

"We’re looking at 37 Democrats who are in districts that are particularly upset and vulnerable to the provisions of this healthcare bill," Cantor said, highlighting the key theme to be pursued: "Are they going to be with the people or are they going to be with Pelosi?"

According to aides that participated in Wednesday morning's GOP conference meeting, Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE (R-Ohio) told his rank-and-file, "The bottom line is, I believe we can beat this bill. The American people are with us.”

After paying tribute to his longtime aide, Paula Nowakowski, who died suddenly on Saturday night of an apparent heart attack, a devastated BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE honored his former "right-hand" by putting on a brave face and briefing lawmakers on the GOP agenda.

Nowakowski, whom Boehner affectionately described as "tough as nails" and an astute strategist, was focused on Republicans reclaiming majority status in the House with the 2010 midterm elections.

Building on the "better solutions that Republicans offered" last year to "define what we are for" will be part of that effort, Boehner told his colleagues. "Whether it ends up being called a contract or an agenda or something else — [it] would involve members of the conference and our candidates."

Boehner told members that he has asked Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to head this effort in conjunction with the National Republican Congressional Committee, a source in the room told The Hill.