Republicans predict Senate ObamaCare repeal would pass House

House Republicans predicted Tuesday that the House will quickly approve the new GOP ObamaCare bill if it can first pass the Senate.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) and other GOP leaders say they are prepared to bring the legislation, sponsored by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNavarro-Fauci battle intensifies, to detriment of Trump McConnell says he has 'total' confidence in Fauci Dancing with no rhythm: Republican candidates resemble Elaine on Seinfeld MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: California backtracks on reopening as cases soar nationwide; SoapBox CEO David Simnick says nimble firms can work around supply chain chokepoints to access supplies for sanitizers and hygienic materials The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - California a coronavirus cautionary tale as it retrenches to stave off infections Cash-strapped cities hammered by COVID-19 beg for federal help MORE (R-La.), to the House floor immediately, while rank-and-file lawmakers said they’d have little choice but to swallow whatever the Senate sends them.

“I believe it will pass,” said Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), whose “yes” vote helped push the House repeal bill over the finish line earlier this year.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If the Senate passes it, the House better get it done,” warned Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), a member of Ryan’s leadership team.

“I’d give it about an 80 percent chance of passing the House if it clears the Senate,” added Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a physician and cancer survivor who is a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.

Senate Republicans are racing to reach an agreement and hold a vote on the bill before Sept. 30, when under a parliamentarian ruling they will no longer be able to use special “budget reconciliation” rules to prevent a Democratic filibuster on the measure.

GOP leadership aides said the House does not have to act before the end of the month. But the Senate’s fast-approaching deadline means there likely won’t be any time on the clock for the House to make tweaks to Graham-Cassidy and bounce it back over to the Senate.

There’s also no time for House and Senate negotiators to form a conference committee to iron out their differences.

“I doubt the House can do anything to modify the Senate bill. We will have to eat it,” said one moderate House Republican.

In May, the House passed a repeal and replace bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), on a narrow 217 to 213 vote, then took a victory lap in the Rose Garden with Trump. Since then, House GOP leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers have pointed fingers at their Senate counterparts for failing to do their part to gut ObamaCare, the central election promise that handed Republicans full control of government last November.

Given that dynamic, House Republicans would be under enormous political pressure — from their conservative base and the White House — to pass Graham-Cassidy if Senate Republicans managed to muster the 51 votes needed.

Whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellProgressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters Pelosi signals flexibility on size of renewed unemployment payments Lincoln Project reports raising .8 million for anti-Trump efforts MORE (R-Ky.) can keep his troops in line is a big question. The junior senator from Kentucky, former Trump presidential rival Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmakers push amendment to rescind authority for troops in Afghanistan House GOP lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19 Top White House aide shares cartoon mocking Fauci MORE, is opposed to the legislation. That means two more GOP “no” votes would kill the health care repeal bill.

“I truly do not know if this can pass the Senate,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), co-chair of the bipartisan Problems Solvers Caucus.

“Bottom line: I’ll believe it when I see it get out of the Senate,” said Reed, who acknowledged having concerns about the bill.

The legislation would repeal much of ObamaCare, and provide block grants to states for health care funding. Its proponents say this would give states more power and curtail a federal takeover of health care.

House GOP leaders informally discussed how they would handle Graham-Cassidy last week, but there’s “a lot of doubt about the Senate passing it,” one leadership source said.

In the House, GOP lawmakers across the political spectrum predicted they would have more breathing room this time around than they did for the May vote. Since that roll call, Republicans have won three special elections — in Montana, Georgia and South Carolina — adding a trio of reliable GOP votes. They lost Oversight Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah), who resigned on June 30 after backing the House repeal bill.

Many expect that the band of 30 conservative hard-liners known as the House Freedom Caucus will line up behind Graham-Cassidy. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is publicly supportive and has had “numerous conversations” with Graham and other senators to ensure the final Senate language is something his conservative members can live with.

“I am optimistic that with the adoption of changes offered by key senators to the Graham-Cassidy bill there will be a path forward that gains the support of 218 House Republicans,” Meadows said in an interview.

“The senators are making sure that it lowers premiums and gives governors flexibility.”

In addition to the House Freedom Caucus, House GOP leaders will also need backing from a majority of the Tuesday Group, composed of roughly 50 centrist Republicans.

The most vocal objections, so far, are coming from this group of moderates. Outspoken Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told the Washington Post he was opposed to the current version of Graham-Cassidy because it would cut Medicaid funding for New York more severely than the House bill. “It’s extremely damaging to New York,” he said.

Reed, a fellow New Yorker, said he would have a hard time backing the Senate bill unless the Faso-Collins amendment is added. That language, proposed by New York GOP Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins, had been worked into the House-passed repeal bill in order to win backing from moderate Empire State Republicans.

The amendment bars New York state from continuing its practice of forcing counties to pay for part of Medicaid, which in turn caused hikes in local property taxes.

“Without the Faso-Collins amendment, I’m very concerned about the proposal,” Reed told The Hill.