The week got off to a rough start for President Trump, but the potential of a smoother finish does exist. The House is expected to vote Thursday on the GOP's ObamaCare replacement, and Trump met with party members Tuesday morning in an effort to bolster support. The meeting follows what Politico describes as an "expansive series of changes" to the bill made Monday night in hopes of doing that very same thing. What you need to know about the amendment, which reportedly came at Trump's behest:
- Reuters explains the stakes: 216 GOP votes are needed, which means the party can suffer only about 20 defections. There are two major camps of concerned GOP parties: centrists who worry an ObamaCare repeal will hurt their constituents, and fierce conservatives who think the replacement isn't aggressive enough.
- An $85 billion bone was thrown to moderates, reports Politico, which explains that per the amendment, that amount would be earmarked as tax credits for those ages 50 to 64, whose premiums would soar under the American Health Care Act. For context, it gives this scenario from the Congressional Budget Office: a 64-year-old making $26,500 would see what he pays explode from $1,700 to $14,600.
- But there's a twist, observes Matthew Yglesias at Vox: The amendment doesn't define those tax credits, instead shifting that task to the Senate. His take: "This is a very unusual way to legislate and reflects House Republicans’ desperation to push through basically anything as soon as possible and pass the buck to the Senate."
- Also at Vox, Ezra Klein bullets the other substantial changes: The amendment bumps up the repeal of some ObamaCare taxes in a concession to those who want to erase the Affordable Care Act ASAP; prevents the rollover of used tax credit money into a Health Savings Account, ostensibly because anti-abortion activists feared the money could then fund abortions; and gives more wiggle-room around how states handle Medicaid. Klein's take: the "tweaks" are designed to win over conservatives, but don't really address the bill's "flaws." More here.
- Axios expects "drama" between now and Thursday night, in part because of what the amendment doesn't address. More here.
- As for what's next, the Washington Post gives context to Trump's Tuesday meetings: They indicate "GOP leaders and the president consider larger-scale talks with key blocs of House members to be essentially complete. The effort now turns toward persuading individual members to vote for the package."
- The AP reports on the message Trump presented: Pass it or there may be hell to pay, essentially. How Rep. Walter Jones framed it: "If you don't pass the bill there could be political costs," those costs being lost seats.
- Will it work? The Wall Street Journal reported Monday night that House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows says more than 21 members remain a "nay."
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