Let the blame game begin — again — with House Republicans saying Wednesday they still can’t reach a deal on reviving their health care bill, likely delaying any chance of action until at least May.
“And this time, we’ll have two weeks to let this all fester,” said Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida, referring to the two-week recess that starts this weekend.
The White House made another run at delivering on GOP promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, with Vice President Mike Pence spending Monday and Tuesday nights meeting with House lawmakers. But Republicans concede they still aren’t ready to vote, meaning that action is very unlikely this month.
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As the depth of the stalemate became clear, the finger-pointing began.
Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a Trump ally, complained Wednesday that some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were “moving the goalposts again.” That group had earlier been targeted by even President Donald Trump for being instrumental in preventing a deal two weeks ago.
Collins said some conservatives insist on giving states more waivers to the Affordable Care Act requirements for covering essential health benefits. If the expanded EHB waivers were put in a bill, “You would lose 75% of our conference with that,” he said.
Several outside conservative groups said the fault lies with moderates who backed away from a conservative priority.
“The left wing among House Republicans doesn’t want to compromise or keep their pledge to voters to repeal Obamacare,” Club for Growth president David McIntosh said in a statement. “This is big-government liberalism at work among House Republicans and Speaker Ryan is letting them run his conference.” The leader of another conservative group, Mike Needham of Heritage Action for America, said moderates should use the two-week recess and take time to “understand conservative health care policy, and they should come back and pass” a bill reflecting that.
At least one House Republican, Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, said lawmakers have nobody to blame but themselves.
“I’m surprised we’ve been this incompetent,” said Chabot, of the House Republicans’ continued inability to reach a deal.
The White House’s effort to bring the House Freedom Caucus on board was unable to bridge the significant gaps remaining between conservatives and moderates over the shape of a replacement plan for Obamacare. GOP leaders conceded that they likely can’t pull off a vote this week.