President Trump’s 100-day mark may have come and gone, but the White House is still engaged in a public, full-court press to get a vote on the Republican Obamacare repeal bill before Congress goes on another recess this week.
The director of Trump’s National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus expressed optimism Monday on CBS’s “This Morning” that they could get the 216 House votes to pass the bill, the American Health Care Act, after Republicans moderates were initially skeptical of the latest round of changes to the legislation.
“Do we have the votes for health care? I think we do,” Cohn said Monday, adding, “We’re convinced we’ve got the votes and we’re going to keep moving on with our agenda.”
Priebus dialed back the confidence level a little bit in a separate interview with This Morning when he was asked about the possibility of a vote.
“I certainly hope so,” Priebus said. “I think it will happen this week.”
According to a report by Politico published Sunday evening, White House officials have been clamoring for a vote this week, suggesting that Congress should be kept in town through the weekend if need be to bring it to the floor.
“This is it,” an administration official told Politico. “We get it done now, or we don’t get it done ever.”
This is not the first time the White House has issued a now-or-never ultimatum on the bill.
House GOP leaders and top congressional aides have been consistent in vowing that they will not bring the bill up for a vote until they know they have the 216 votes to pass it. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said it had “No schedule updates at this time” when TPM reached out about Cohn’s and Priebus’ comments.
The repeal bill gained some momentum last week when it got the support of the hardline conservative group, the House Freedom Caucus, which had resisted it previously. The problem for GOP leaders is that the changes to the bill that brought the conservatives on board—particularly an amendment that would allow states to opt out of certain Affordable Care Act insurer mandates, including some that protect consumers with pre-existing conditions—have made the conference’s centrists nervous. Some previous supporters of the bill changed their stance to undecided after the provision was unveiled.
Congress left town on Friday with members saying they were close to having enough votes to pass the bill, but not there yet.