June 20, 2017
Republicans may be celebrating more than July 4th after next week. If the Senate gets its act together and successfully deals the health care debate, America may be looking at its independence from Obamacare! According to sources, there's light at the end of the tunnel for GOP leaders, who've spent the last six weeks in a bill-writing frenzy. The plan's great reveal is scheduled for Thursday or Friday, when both parties will finally get a peek at Republicans' vision for one-sixth of the U.S. economy. At today's policy lunch, the GOP was expected to get its first look at how the chairmen drew up the big-ticket items like tax credits, Medicaid changes, and Planned Parenthood funding.
"The Senate will soon have a chance to turn the page on this failed law," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters. "We have to act, and we are." Despite the tight turnaround, he promises that the Senate will have "ample opportunity to read and amend the bill." Of course, Democrats are already complaining about the timeline and vowing to gum up the process. That's ironic, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pointed out, since Obama's party dropped its bill on Republicans on Christmas Eve. If all goes according to plan, senators will have 20 hours of debate, followed by a rapid-fire vote-a-rama, where parties can offer an unlimited number of amendments without much discussion.
The margins for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are razor thin. With three senators threatening to defect -- including the two pro-abortion Republicans, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) -- the dance for GOP support is a delicate one. The surest way to lose it, the House Republican Study Committee warned, is stripping any of the pro-life protections. More than 70 members signed on to a letter setting their own conditions for a Senate plan. And keeping taxpayers out of the abortion business is one of them.
"While there have been differences of opinion on the best way to fix our nation's health care system, the pro-life majority in the House of Representatives has reached consensus that any health care legislation must abide by the overarching principle that abortion is not health care, and that therefore, elective abortion, abortion providers, and health plans that include abortion should not be subsidized..."
"The House-passed American Health Care Act of 2017 applied these principles by including statutory protections against funding abortion under any current and future tax credits utilized under this bill, or any form of government assistance for the purchase of health care; and reallocating funds away from certain abortion providers to community health centers... We encourage your continued prioritization of these pro-life principles."
Translation? Pass a plan that doesn't protect the unborn, and it's dead on arrival. Even if McConnell makes it past the Senate's landmines (and there are plenty of them), he'll still have to hash out the plan's rewrite with the House in conference. That gives House leaders plenty of sway in what and how much the upper chamber changes -- which, on core values, we hope isn't much.
FRC, which worked with the House Freedom Caucus to smooth out the American Health Care Act's rough edges, was as pleased as voters that the House's final product wasn't just pro-life, but pro-family. After taking a bite out of Americans' wallets for years, House leaders struck a compromise that drops costs and boosts freedom too. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks even more can be done on that front, telling the media, "...[I]f we focus on lowering premiums we can bring together conservatives, we can bring together moderates, we can unify Republicans, and actually fulfill the mandate the American people sent us here to do."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.