House Republicans were supposed to pass Trumpcare today. President Trump himself promised that the bill would get through the House because of his super awesome negotiating skills. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was publicly promising that Trumpcare would pass the House as recently as this morning.
And then…bupkis. House Republicans couldn’t even get enough support for their own legislation to put the bill to a vote. From the Washington Post:
House leaders postponed a vote Thursday on their plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system, as they and President Trump struggled to meet demands of conservative lawmakers who said they could not support the bill.
House Republicans planned to meet behind closed doors later Thursday to figure out their next steps. Leaders have told the rank and file to be available Friday in the event a vote can be scheduled then.
House Republicans don’t have the votes now, and they’re not likely to turn around some 30-40 Republican opponents by Friday morning, despite what the White House continues to shout (White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made this absurd statement on Thursday afternoon: “We’re very confident that the bill will pass tomorrow morning.”)
Senate Republicans want nothing to do with this legislation even if the House were to magically send it to the floor for a vote. Polling results show that vast majorities of the American public don’t want Trumpcare to happen. It’s certainly possible that House Republicans could still salvage a vote on the American Health Care Act at some point, but missing their own much-hyped deadline today leaves the GOP with absolutely zero momentum on the issue.
The political damage for Republicans will be massive. Republican candidates across the country have spent the last six years running on a promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare; now that they have a Congressional majority and the White House, there is nobody left to blame for their inability to get anything done. Here’s how today’s GOP disaster will impact three key Republican politicians in Colorado:
Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)
Senator Gardner basically owes his entire Congressional career to opposing Obamacare…and he may ultimately lose his job for the same reason. This entire process has made an absolute ass out of the freshman Senator from Yuma. Gardner tried to talk in generalities about health care and avoided saying whether he supported or opposed Trumpcare, but smiling and dancing around the issue doesn’t work in this case. Dozens and dozens of Republicans in Congress are publicly opposing (or supporting) legislation that has been the lead story in the news for weeks; nothing looks weaker than refusing to take a clear stance. It’s even worse than that for Gardner because he has already previously supported most of the key features of Trumpcare.
Fumbling on Trumpcare, which was a big reason Gardner refused to meet with his constituents, has cost him already. Gardner’s approval rating is abysmal — even among Republicans.
Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)
As poorly as Gardner has dealt with this issue, it could have been worse. He could have been Mike Coffman.
Coffman has said plenty of ridiculous crap about Trumpcare. He was a fervent supporter of the legislation before he was wary of it, and his awful timing was downright Shakespearean. Coffman gave a full-throated endorsement of the House legislation literally hours before the Congressional Budget Office dealt it a mortal wound with its estimate that 24 million Americans would lose coverage under Trumpcare. There’s a saying for that in Colorado: It’s called “getting out over your skis.”
Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)
Buck may have had his problems with the messaging part of this debate, but you could make an argument that he actually benefits from today’s carnage. Buck is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group that had enough juice to essentially cancel today’s healthcare vote when they wouldn’t commit to its support. Buck represents a pretty safe Republican district, so his biggest political problem was convincing the GOP base that he was still a true conservative even if he didn’t back Trumpcare. Being a part of the House Freedom Caucus gives Buck perhaps the only political way out of this mess, and his conservative club now has more power on Capitol Hill than ever before.