First ObamaCare votes put vulnerable GOPers on the spot

Greg Nash

Two House committees will vote on the new GOP legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare this week, putting eight vulnerable Republicans in the spotlight.

The lawmakers are top targets of Democrats for 2018 and all hail from districts that chose Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in November, bolstering the party’s hopes of flipping their seats next year.

The Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees are scheduled to vote Wednesday on Republican bills to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

House Energy and Commerce Committee members Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) and Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) are all up for reelection in districts Clinton won.

The committee is made up of 31 Republicans and 24 Democrats, so passing the bill requires support from all but three GOP members if Democrats unanimously oppose it.

The same holds true for the Ways and Means Committee, which has 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats. There, focus will be on GOP Reps. Dave Reichert (Wash.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Peter Roskam (Ill.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) and Erik Paulsen (Minn.), who all represent districts won by the former secretary of State.

No Republicans are expected to break from the party in either committee at this time.

Clinton won some of these GOP-held districts by slim margins — 1 point in Lance’s northern New Jersey district, for example — while carrying others handily, such as Curbelo’s south Florida district by 16 points.

Republicans are facing criticism for charging ahead with committee markups barely 48 hours after releasing the text of the long-awaited legislation. Democrats are attacking them for the quickly scheduled markups, pointing out that the House publicly posted the text of the ObamaCare legislation 30 days before the first committee held a markup in 2009.   

What’s more, the markups will take place without analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which would estimate the legislation’s cost and how many people would lose or gain health insurance coverage.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a letter on Tuesday to ensure that CBO estimates are available before any vote in a committee or by the full House.

“Mr. Speaker, as a former Chair of both the Committee on Ways and Means and the Budget, you understand the importance of having the numbers as well as anyone,” Pelosi wrote.

The GOP proposal would roll back the subsidies that help people purchase health insurance, the expansion of Medicaid and the individual mandate requiring people to buy insurance.

It would instead give Americans tax credits to help buy insurance. And in place of the individual mandate, the House GOP legislation would discourage people from forgoing health insurance by allowing insurers to charge 30 percent higher premiums if a new enrollee has had a gap in coverage.

It would keep some of the popular aspects of ObamaCare, however, such as ensuring coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.

While the proposal has been endorsed by President Trump’s administration, it’s earning backlash from others within the Republican Party.


Some House members and several conservative outside groups are dubbing the plan “ObamaCare lite” or “ObamaCare 2.0,” arguing that the tax credits are another form of entitlement spending and charging that the 30 percent penalty for a lapse in coverage is exactly like ObamaCare’s individual mandate.

The House currently has five vacancies, meaning GOP leaders need support from all but 21 of their own members to pass the legislation in the House without help from Democrats.

It’s also unclear whether the proposal in its current form could pass the Senate, where Republicans can only afford two defections to pass legislation on their own.

Four GOP senators came out in opposition to the plan before the bills were even unveiled and vowed they would vote against any legislation that included dismantling Medicaid expansion.

In addition, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has dubbed the GOP offering “ObamaCare lite,” and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said it was a “step in the wrong direction.”

Tags Dave Reichert Hillary Clinton Mike Lee Paul Ryan Rand Paul
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