Where Do We Stand on Trumpcare?

Evan Vucci/AP

I wanted to share some background perspective on The Trumpcare Long March and whether there’s a chance Trump will still be able to repeal Obamacare and toss 20+ million off their healthcare care coverage. 

The simplest point is that it’s a long shot for Republicans to even get their bill out of the House. If they get it out of the House, there’s virtually no way it will get through the Senate. They’re not going to get Democratic support. And it’s quite uncertain whether they will be able to hold together Republican support. At a minimum, a House Trumpcare bill would be significantly modified in the Senate. That, in turn, might make it impossible to get the revised version or a compromise between the two through the House.

This is why Senators, especially Republicans senators, are telling their House colleagues loud and clear: don’t send us this bill. That’s what Alice Ollstein explains here this morning. They don’t want to be put in the impossible position the House has put itself in.

But it is true that getting a bill through one house is a big, big step, even if getting it through the other house looks like a long shot. It’s not so much inertia or momentum as institutional logic. Bills that get passed in the House get taken up in the Senate. They tend not to die there. Yes, it’s a long shot. But parties and institutional structures do tend to move legislation forward. It’s what Congress is designed to do. Even in our era of institutional breakdown, that still tends to happen. Hammers look for nails to strike. Armies look for wars to fight. Legislatures look for bills to pass. It’s what they do.

So if it gets through the House that is a big deal. Does it become likely that Obamacare will finally be repealed? I’d say no. But it definitely becomes more likely. And the consequences in lives will be enormous.

So why are reporters all waiting on this Trumpcare stake out waiting for it finally to pass or even get voted on if it’s unlikely to pass? Some of that is just feeding frenzy, building off Republican wishful thinking. (Journalists look for stories to write.) But there’s one aspect of it that is more than that. The White House and the House GOP leadership is trying every trick in the book to make this happen – every bit of enticement, coercion, trickery and pleading. If and when they think they’re at 216 votes, they’ll move to a vote as quickly as they possibly can just to make sure no one changes their minds.

So is it likely? No.

Personally, I think there are political realities that make the whole prospect a very long shot, whether in the House or the Senate or anywhere. So likely, no. But if it happens, which it could, it will happen very, very fast.

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