Like most Democrats, Nancy Pelosi didn’t mince words when it came to talking about President Donald Trump and the Republicans mission to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
The House minority leader came out swinging this week, accusing the GOP of hiding their plan to repeal and replace the health care law commonly known as Obamacare.
“I’m told that Republicans are hiding their ACA repeal bill in a basement room of the Capitol,” the California Democrat said. “This is unheard of. Even a Republican, Sen. Rand Paul, is criticizing House GOP leaders for the secrecy.”
Democrats, on the other hand, wrote the ACA with unprecedented openness, including an eight-day markup in the Senate Finance Committee, Pelosi said.
USA Today reported that the drama spilled out into the open following the release last week of a health care plan that House Republican leadership was reportedly drafting. The draft plan included at least a half-dozen components that proved toxic for various segments of the Republican Party.
Conservatives in the House are rebelling against the draft bill, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) dismissed the legislation as an old draft that GOP leaders never intended to advance.
But it is not clear what legislation will get enough support of House Republicans to pass and still have a chance of moving through the much less conservative U.S. Senate.
A core group of conservatives raised alarms on Monday and said they couldn’t vote for legislation because it relied on a “refundable tax credit” that would give people money in advance to buy health insurance, according to USA Today.
In theory, they’d pay the money back when they do their taxes, but conservatives worry it’ll end up turning into an entitlement program instead.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said that if Republicans introduced legislation similar to the draft, he wouldn’t vote for it. Meadows chairs the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 hard-line conservatives who are not afraid to break with their party and have threatened to vote as a bloc to halt legislation in the past.
“In order to get it right, if we have to vote against a partial repeal, a partial replacement, we believe that conservatives will understand that vote,” said Meadows, who was joined by Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of about 170 conservatives.
Walker said he would advise his members to vote against the draft plan. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah also said they’d vote “no” on the legislation without changes, USA Today reported.
In Trump’s speech to Congress last week, he said governors should be given “the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out,” but offered no details about what those resources would be.
Trump’s vague comments on the Medicaid expansion are illustrative of a larger issue within the party where lawmakers are trying to figure out what the president’s intentions are.
Reportedly, there’s increasing pressure on Republican leadership to come together on a plan.
AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said that there’s a plan from late last year, but it wasn’t clear what replacement details were available for the plan.
“We put forward a bottom up healthcare plan last year and members ran on that plan throughout the campaign,” Strong said. “We’re now following through on that plan and the promises we made to our constituents.”
California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who skipped Trump’s address, blasted the president and others who want to do away with Obamacare.
She said her party have a responsibility to educate and point out the contradictions of the current administration and to understand who Trump is and how he’s misled America.
“The farmers in California said, ‘We never thought that he was going to do those deportations. What are we gonna do about these crops that we have to turn out?’” Waters said in a recently televised interview. “And then up in the coal mining country, people are just now realizing that it’s because of Obamacare that black lung disease is being taken care of — these preexisting conditions.
“So, I think little by little, some people are going to come to the realization that this is not the person that they want for the president of the United States,” she said. “Others are going to increasingly get embarrassed by him.”