Just when it seemed over, the Republican attempt to overhaul the US healthcare system made something of a comeback Tuesday morning.
Republicans emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting saying they had not abandoned their desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, even after their bill was yanked from the House floor on Friday.
“On Friday, the votes weren’t there yet. That doesn’t mean we are not going to get there,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a press conference.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise added that Democrats’ celebrations about the failure of the Republican bill were “premature.”
On Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican donors he would continue to work on healthcare reform even after the GOP could not come together on the American Health Care Act, the House GOP leadership’s plan that was introduced in early March.
“I will explain how it all still works, and how we’re still moving forward on healthcare with other ideas and plans,” Ryan told donors, according to The Washington Post.
Reports indicated that House Republicans at the conference on Tuesday discussed pushing forward on healthcare reform.
Associated Press congressional correspondent Erica Werner reported that Republicans leaving the meeting said they were not done, and that Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia said it was only “halftime.”
Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus and an opponent of the AHCA, said he believed a healthcare plan from Ryan was “fairly immediate,” according to Bloomberg.
The biggest sticking point for the AHCA was the failure of GOP leadership to persuade members of the Freedom Caucus to agree to the bill. The caucus had demanded a more extreme repeal of Obamacare and had enough votes to block the bill’s passage in the House.
CNN senior congressional producer Deirdre Walsh reported that after the Republican conference meeting, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows said he still wanted to get healthcare reform done and did not think Republicans should leave for the April recess until legislation has passed.
The New York Times reported that White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, were in talks with the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group, a caucus of more moderate Republicans. According to The Times’ Robert Pear and Jeremy Peters, Pence met with Republican representatives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discuss healthcare reform.
It is unclear how House Republicans could agree on a bill, as any concessions to the Freedom Caucus would likely result in the loss of more moderate members of the party. (A nearly equal number of moderates opposed the bill, based on media whip counts.)
Several Senate Republicans are open to working with Democrats to craft a bipartisan bill to overhaul Obamacare, according to Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis, though that effort would appear to be separate from the current House moves.