GOP predicts victory on ObamaCare repeal vote

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his GOP leadership team held what amounted to a pep rally for rank-and-file members in the Capitol basement Thursday morning as they predicted victory in their push to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Leaders played the “Rocky” theme song as lawmakers walked into the meeting. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) put an image of George S. Patton on the screen and read inspirational quotes from the general.

“Let’s get this f–king thing done!” Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) told her colleagues, according to sources in the room.

The House is expected to vote Thursday afternoon on the GOP’s healthcare bill, which has been stalled in the lower chamber ever since leaders yanked it off the floor six weeks ago. Top House Republicans predicted they had the 216 votes necessary to pass, touting the expected victory as a win for the GOP’s vision on healthcare.

Passage would hand Ryan and his team a huge, much-needed legislative victory, though the bill faces a difficult path in the Senate.

{mosads}In the closed-door meeting, Ryan said Thursday’s critical vote was about fulfilling a promise the GOP has made to voters for the last four election cycles. The Speaker referenced news that the only ObamaCare insurer for most of Iowa is threatening to drop out of the exchanges.

Ryan also thanked a long list of lawmakers who helped negotiate the legislation, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Tuesday Group Co-Chair Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.).

“Ryan summed up that this is what the American people feel, this is what the American people asked us for,” Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) told The Hill as she left the meeting. 

“This victory today isn’t about one side of the other; it’s about delivering good quality healthcare to Americans, being able to contain premiums and allowing people to have control of their healthcare again. This is a day that we’ve sealed the deal on the promise to Americans.”

Trump ally Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) added: “The main message was to remind America we are saving healthcare, we are saving the individual exchanges, which are failing hour by hour.”

Leadership again told lawmakers that they have the votes to pass the bill, Collins said. He expressed hope that one person would not be the “deciding vote.” 

“I’m hoping we see 217, because you always want to win by at least two,” he said. 

But not all members emerged from the gathering enthusiastic. Vulnerable Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who represents the Miami area, left the GOP conference still undecided on the bill. 

“I’m going back to my office now to review it with staff,” Curbelo told reporters. 

“The key for me is that people with pre-existing conditions, the most vulnerable people in the healthcare system, that there’s a sufficient safety net to capture them all, to make sure that none of them are left with no options.” 

Curbelo said a new amendment sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to provide more funding to insure people with pre-existing conditions “helped” but he needs to “figure out if it’s enough.” 

Leadership cited insurer exits from Affordable Care Act exchanges in Iowa and Virginia as the reason the bill needs to pass Thursday. 

“Look at the paper yesterday with the announcement of healthcare providers pulling out of Iowa — 94 of those 99 counties won’t have healthcare,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters. 

“We cannot wait for how ObamaCare is collapsing. We have to transform this, and that’s what we’ll do today.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) touted the exit as proof “this law is in a death spiral.” 

“Our bill rescues families, focuses on lower premiums, and puts people back in charge of their healthcare decisions,” he told reporters.

“I think you’re going to see a proud vote today on the floor by a bunch of members ready to go and rescue people from the failure of ObamaCare,” he said. 

– Rachel Roubein contributed. 

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