(Bloomberg) — Several conservative Congressional holdouts on the stalled GOP American Health Care Act bill said they’re ready to sign on after revisions to the measure, potentially giving it a new lease on life, but a number of moderate Republicans said they’re still opposed.
House Republicans have been under intense pressure to deliver on years of promises to repeal Obamacare, but GOP leaders weren’t making predictions of an imminent vote, despite renewed pressure from the White House as President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office on Saturday.
The new enthusiasm stems from an amendment that would give states the authority to apply for waivers from some Affordable Care Act requirements under certain conditions.
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“It’s pretty much everything I was looking for in terms of concessions,” said Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who had opposed an earlier version.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and his lieutenants don’t know whether the new converts will add up to enough support to pass the bill, which would change some ACA provisions and leave many others intact.
“We’re showing people the language now,” Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday. “And as we work through and talk through, we’re going to talk to more members tonight and tomorrow. Check with me tomorrow and we’ll be able to know.”
Republicans haven’t yet conducted an updated vote count, according to several House GOP members who discussed the measure in a closed-door meeting Tuesday.
“Cautious,” said Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, a medical doctor, of the approach that House Republican leaders are taking. Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio said everyone is proceeding quietly so that nothing happens “to blow everything up.”
But an influential Republican moderate, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, said the changes don’t soften his opposition to the GOP bill.
“The amendment as I understand it doesn’t change my position. I am still a no,” he said Tuesday.
The White House, which has been involved in discussions about the changes, is still eager to resurrect the health care bill.
“We’re not going to overpromise anything; when the votes are there, the speaker will bring it to the floor but no sooner than that,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters late Tuesday. He said he didn’t know if that might be this week or next.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act was a major Trump campaign promise and a longtime goal of House Republicans.
“We probably had about half of the members of the Freedom Caucus in the first go-around,” White House legislative affair director Marc Short told reporters Tuesday. “With this amendment, I’d like to think we have greater than 80% — we are very confident in that.”
Short said he still thinks they could get the health care bill passed before the GOP tax bill is introduced in the next four to six weeks.