Pelosi urges ‘all hands on deck’ to fight ObamaCare repeal

Pelosi urges ‘all hands on deck’ to fight ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has issued a call to arms to House Democrats, urging her troops to unite in a public and animated defense of ObamaCare in the face of the Republicans’ repeal efforts.

In a letter to the members of her caucus released Tuesday night, Pelosi warned that the GOP’s replacement legislation represents “a merciless assault on working families” nationwide, enjoining the lawmakers to use every tool at their disposal to rally public opposition to the Republicans’ repeal-and-replace package ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote.

“The next 48 hours will be all hands on deck,” Pelosi wrote.

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Pelosi, a former Speaker who was the instrumental force guiding ObamaCare through the House in 2009 and 2010, is urging Democrats to draw out the debate as long as possible in both the Rules Committee, which will consider the proposal on Wednesday, and on the House floor, where the discussion is expected to extend well into Thursday night.

Pelosi is also creating a “war room” in her office, just steps from the House chamber, where Democrats are being encouraged to tap Facebook Live to get their message out to voters — a tool that proved effective last summer when the Democrats took over the chamber floor to protest Republican inaction on gun reform.

The Democrats will gather in the Capitol Wednesday morning to gauge the latest polling on the effort they’ve dubbed “TrumpCare.” Afterward, they’ll gather on the Capitol steps with former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden weighing an early announcement of running mate: report Poll: Biden leads among millennial voters O'Rourke faces sharp backlash from left MORE to mark the seven-year anniversary of the signing of ObamaCare.

The Democrats’ healthcare overhaul had initially been a political liability for the party, which lost control of the House in 2010, largely due to the unpopularity of the sweeping changes. But seven years later, more than 20 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage under the law, which has seen a surge in popularity amid the Republican push to undo its central components.

Pelosi is hoping to tap those changing public sentiments to sink the Republicans’ repeal effort.

“Thursday’s vote will have life and death consequences for tens of millions of Americans,” Pelosi wrote in her letter. “Our Caucus will be fully engaged in the fight to defeat Republicans’ monstrous bill.”

The minority Democrats have no power, by themselves, to block the Republicans’ proposal in the lower chamber, where GOP leaders enjoy a 44-seat advantage and bills are passed by a simple majority. But Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBottom Line Paul Ryan says Trump will win reelection because of 'record of accomplishment' Pence loses House office space MORE (R-Wis.) and his leadership team are struggling to marshal the 216 votes they need in the face of opposition from both conservative and moderate Republicans who, for various reasons, are reluctant to back the proposal despite the party’s years-long fight to dismantle the signature domestic achievement of former President Obama.

Vying to rally support, President Trump stormed the Capitol on Tuesday, huddling in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans where he warned the holdouts that they risk losing their seats — and perhaps the chamber — in 2018 if they don’t get on board.

The message was viewed by many as an unveiled threat that the combative president would encourage primary challenges against those bucking one of the central promises of his campaign. But a number of Republican critics appeared unfazed, emerging from the meeting with continued vows to oppose the measure unless significant changes are made.

Failure of the bill would be a humiliating upset for Ryan and the Republicans, who have long argued that their market-based health insurance approach would prove a vast improvement over ObamaCare when it comes to cutting costs and providing patients with greater powers to dictate the terms of their coverage and care.

Scrambling to avoid defeat, Ryan and other GOP leaders are twisting arms — publicly and privately — in an effort to get recalcitrant Republicans behind the bill. In the eyes of some critics, however, the burden of persuasion rests largely with Trump in the White House.

"At this point I think he [Ryan] is counting on the president to talk to a number of our members and hopefully make some concessions that maybe moves the ball forward,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), head of the conservative Freedom Caucus and a vocal opponent of the Republicans’ bill, said Tuesday.

“They're going to bring the vote regardless [of the whip count], is what I've been told.”