House Republican leadership released a slew of amendments to the Obamacare replacement bill on Monday evening, an attempt to wrangle conservative votes for the party’s biggest campaign promise which is set to go in front of the full House for a vote on Thursday.
The amendments include overtures to conservatives such as immediately halting the ability for new states to expand Medicaid and allowing states to implement “reasonable” work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
But some conservative members were undeterred by the proposed changes, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C, said he thinks the legislation won’t have enough votes to pass. If 21 Republicans vote against the bill, it will fail.
“Currently there are not enough votes to pass the legislation,” Meadows said.
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Republican leadership praised the proposed changes.
“Our legislation includes ideas from Republican members who are committed to improving health care for patients and families across the country,” said Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, in a joint statement. “We're confident these changes will set AHCA up for success in the House. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to get this bill over the finish line and send it to the President as quickly as possible.”
Just before the amendments were announced a group of conservative lawmakers dubbed the Freedom Caucus met at a Capitol Hill restaurant. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah voiced their opposition, enough votes to sink the bill in the Senate.
A number of Republicans, including Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, said they were inclined to vote against the legislation after the meeting.
Barton, a former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, described himself as a “friendly lean no.”
While most of the amendments were targeted to win over conservative votes and align with many of the recommendations passed by the Budget Committee last week, a provision designed to lure Republicans from New York could win over a few moderate votes. The amendment seeks to stop New York counties from paying a share of Medicaid expenses and transfers that cost to the state.
At least one New York Republican who wavered on the bill, Rep. Claudia Tenney, said the amendment would make her likely to support the legislation if it’s included in the final bill.
“This would be a huge boon to our area,” Tenney said to the Utica Observer-Dispatch. “If the amendment does not go through, I would not vote on it.”
The list of proposed amendments also includes new tax credits for older Americans designed to offset the cost of increased premiums under the new law, another avenue to potentially lure yes votes from moderate Republicans.
The American Health Care Act is set to go before the Rules Committee on Wednesday before heading to the House floor on Thursday.