March 24, 2017 (San Diego) the defeat of the American Health Care Act in the Republican House reveals just how divided the Republican Party is as well. Two major factions, the moderate (Tuesday Morning) caucus, and the extremely conservative, some might say Libertarian, Freedom Caucus.
Concessions were made to that caucus, which led to the collapse on the moderate side. Some of those concessions would have taken away all the minimum health care standards, such as maternity care and preventative health care. One must clarify, both caucuses are on the right-wing of the American political system. However, the failure of this bill will be a body blow to the agenda of the incoming administration.
President Donald Trump has vowed to move on, while congressional leaders are left with a very divided caucus, risking their agenda, possibly their majority. They did not have the votes, and finally, the bill will be pulled, at the request of the President of the United States. This promise is what drove them to majorities and gave them the White House. However, the American Health Care Act was pulled since they could not get the votes.
“Obamacare is the law of the land, it’s going to remain the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. told reporters. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
Since 2010 there were over 60 votes to repeal the ACA, but now they could not do it.
The whole affair was unusual; the President first demands a vote, then asks the Speaker to pull it. The legislative agenda is not run from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, this is exactly how it looked.
This internal revolt has led to a major defeat, and health care is dead for the duration of this Congress. This will have consequences. The Speaker will have to explain why the Affordable Care Act remains in place. The politics will become increasingly more complex. This also begs the question, whether President Donald Trump will have the votes to carry the rest of his agenda.
It also reveals how the House, in particular, functions increasingly like a fractured parliament, where factions hold each other at bay. This is also going to hit the self-image of the president as a deal maker.
This process will now go through regular order, but the overall structure of the ACA remains in place. The AHCA was not a good plan, with popularity down in the 17 percent. It also reveals that republicans had seven years and failed to get a viable legislative package to replace the ACA.
Edited to add Speaker Ryan’s statement to the press.