GOP leader suggests House could be called back from recess to vote on health bill
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Republicans as they departed Washington on Thursday that their recesses could be cut short if a deal is reached on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Such a compromise between the centrist and conservative factions of the House GOP remains a long way off. But McCarthy warned lawmakers they might have to return early if negotiations prove fruitful in the next two weeks.

“I realize how important it is to keep up momentum so be assured that conversations will continue and we will keep in contact with you throughout the district work period. Should we be prepared to advance our bill through the House in the coming two weeks, we will advise Members immediately and give you sufficient time to return to Washington,” McCarthy wrote in a memo to House Republicans. 

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The House is scheduled to be out of session until Tuesday, April 25. Upon their return to the Capitol, lawmakers will face the immediate task of avoiding a government shutdown before funding legislation expires on April 28.

The House Rules Committee is meeting Thursday to add a provision to new healthcare legislation that would create a $15 billion program to help insurers cover the costs of sick, high-cost patients starting in 2018. The panel is meeting after the House’s last votes of the week, so it's unclear when, if ever, the new provision would be considered on the House floor.

Republicans expressed frustration with leaving for a two-week recess with the repeal-and-replace plan in limbo.

“Congress is leaving for Easter break with work undone. For seven years we’ve told the American people that we would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with something better,” Rep. Luke Messer (Ind.), the House GOP policy committee chairman, said in a House floor speech after the last votes.

“My hope is we will be back next week before Easter. I know many of my colleagues are ready for the holidays, but we need to do what we said we would do,” Messer said.