posted at 10:01 am on May 4, 2017 by Ed Morrissey
Old and busted: You have to pass it to find out what’s in it! New hotness: Er … you have to pass it to find out what’s in it? Having finally crossed the magic line for the first stage of the repeal of ObamaCare, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy will finally bring the bill to the floor for its up-or-down vote. NBC News surprisingly gives Donald Trump most of the political credit — assuming it actually passes:
House Republican leaders plan to hold a vote on their health care bill Thursday, sending the strongest signal yet that enough support has been corralled to pass it.
Asked whether they had the votes needed to pass the bill, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said Wednesday night, “Yes, we do.”
“I feel great about the count,” McCarthy added.
However, the floor vote could be the first time some members will see it:
A number of House members say they haven’t seen latest version of bill that will remake the health care system and will be voted on tomorrow
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 4, 2017
Aaron Blake notes that the CBO hasn’t scored the bill yet either, which means no one can be sure whether all the pieces actually fit together — and whether it qualifies for reconciliation, either. Plus, as Blake points out, it sure seems like déjà vu all over again:
“I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read and don’t know what they cost,” now-House Speaker Paul Ryan said in 2009, when Democrats were allegedly ramming through their own health-care bill. (As The Post’s Philip Bump notes, the Democrats’ process actually took quite a long time.)
Former speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was even more adamant in 2010, when he was the leader of the minority Republicans, shouting on the House floor: “Have you read the bill? Have you read the reconciliation bill? Have you read the manager’s amendment? Hell no you haven’t!”
So before the 2010 election, Republicans made a pledge to voters:
We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter anyway. The Senate will demolish this version of the AHCA and come up with its own plan, and will have to wait for CBO scoring in order to get through the reconciliation process. This rush intends to dump this problem into the upper chamber, as well as to provide a 24-hour news-cycle boost to the White House for finally succeeding at cat-herding.
According to Reuters, the vote will take place at 1:15 ET — if it takes place at all. Will it really pass, or will Ryan and McCarthy have to pull it once again? The vote will be close, but they wouldn’t have scheduled it without an ironclad assurance that it would succeed. The most interesting aspect of the vote will likely be its management. Which Republicans will be allowed to vote no, and what will that say about GOP nervousness regarding the midterms in 2018? Stay tuned. The bill needs 216 votes for passage, thanks to five empty seats in the House at the moment; let’s put the over-under at 220. I’ll take the under.