Pelosi on GOP health vote: 'This is a scar that they'll carry'

Pelosi on GOP health vote: 'This is a scar that they'll carry'
© Greg Nash

Republicans may secure a major win this week when they vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says that victory will be short-lived.

The House Democratic leader hammered the Republicans on Thursday for “maliciously … attempting to destroy healthcare” for millions of Americans. But the ultimate political benefit, she suggested, will fall on the Democrats.

“It’s good in one respect. It’s going to provide a great civics lesson for America,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “Most people don't even know who their congressperson is in many places. Now they’ll find out. They’ll find out that their congressperson voted to take away their healthcare.”

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Pelosi was Speaker in 2010, when the Democrats were hammered at the polls and lost the House majority, largely due to the unpopularity of ObamaCare and the Tea Party critics who fueled it. Pelosi declined to predict how Thursday’s vote might affect the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections specifically, but she said the political ramifications for the Republicans will be severe if millions insured through ObamaCare lose their health coverage, as numerous analysts are warning.

“There are people who have said to me, ‘Why do you keep trying to stop this bill? Let them pass it,’” she said.

“Now I don’t like that, because we are first and foremost looking after the American people. But … there is very little chance that this bill will be passed by the Senate. So they’re making a very bad move,” she added. “People have to see that elections have ramifications in their lives, and this is probably one of the most personal manifestations of that connection.”  

The comments came just hours before the House is scheduled to vote on the latest version of their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation — an action they've promised for seven years and one that became a central message of President Trump’s successful campaign.

The Republicans enjoy a 45-seat advantage in the House, but Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) and GOP leaders have struggled to gather the votes needed to pass the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, through the lower chamber. Twice in recent weeks they’ve introduced proposals that never came to the floor for a lack of support. 

The most recent proposal, their third try, features an amendment from Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to increase funding for high-risk pools by $8 billion over five years. Upton and other centrist Republicans had worried that the initial figure, $130 billion over 10 years, was insufficient to ensure that patients with pre-existing conditions could afford coverage in states that adopt waivers eliminating certain ObamaCare protections — waivers required to entice the support of conservative Republicans.

Some House Republicans have criticized the bill this week but said they’ll still support it because they have confidence the package will be improved in the Senate. Pelosi rejected that argument on Thursday, saying any House lawmaker who supports the House bill will have to answer to voters for that decision, regardless of what happens in the upper chamber. 

“They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar that they’ll carry,” she said. “Whatever happens in the vote, the members of the House Republican caucus will be forever identified with the worst aspects of the bill they passed.” 

Pelosi also criticized the Republicans for pushing the bill to the floor Thursday — less than 24 hours after the text was introduced — without a cost and coverage analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Ryan and other GOP leaders had insisted during the original ObamaCare debate that Democrats hold no votes until the CBO score was available. The Republicans’ flip-flop this year has not been overlooked by Pelosi and the Democrats, who are accusing GOP of glaring hypocrisy.

“Their modus operandi is to project: We’re going to say about you what it’s probably likely we would do ourselves. And that’s what they did. They put forth a bill, no CBO report, when they were demanding one for us. … So let’s be gentle and say it’s totally inconsistent,” she said.

“Forcing a vote without an updated CBO score shows that the Republicans are terrified,” she added. “They’re terrified of the facts of what that CBO report would say.”

When the Republicans unveiled their initial healthcare bill in March, public polls showed it was deeply unpopular. A Quinnipiac University survey found that just 17 percent approved of the proposal.

Pelosi is warning that the next CBO analysis will only cause more voters to oppose the new GOP bill.  

“Once a CBO score comes out on this, it’s going to be even worse because the bill goes in the wrong direction,” she said.

“It’s really a stupid bill.”