Republicans muscled their capstone health care overhaul past an initial barrier and toward a climactic roll call Friday, plunging ahead despite uncertainty over whether they had the votes to prevail in what loomed as a monumental gamble for President Trump and his GOP allies in Congress, the AP reports. In the day's first meaningful roll call, the House used a near party-line 230-194 vote to insert changes into the measure that leaders hoped would win over unhappy Republicans. These included improving Medicaid benefits for some older and disabled people and abolishing coverage requirements that ObamaCare imposes on insurers. The GOP bill would eliminate the Obama statute's unpopular fines on those who do not obtain coverage and the often generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance.
Friday's votes stood as the biggest vote to date for Trump and for House Speaker Paul Ryan, both aware that conservatives comprising the heart of their party's constituency were demanding no less than an all-out assault on Obama's law. For Trump, victory would clear an initial but crucial hurdle toward achieving the GOP's lodestar quest to repeal ObamaCare. Defeat could weaken Trump's political potency by adding a legislative failure to a resume already saddled with inquiries into his campaign's Russia connections and his unfounded wiretapping allegations against Obama. Politico reports a final vote on the American Health Care Act Friday afternoon is still close to call. (Read more American Health Care Act stories.)