House begins debate on GOP healthcare plan ahead of vote

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The House began debating the GOP’s healthcare plan Friday and is headed for a cliffhanger vote in the afternoon, reports The Hill.

Lawmakers voted largely along party lines, 230-194, to adopt parameters for floor debate.

The report states that an unusually high number of Republicans voted against the rule. Among the Republicans who voted against it were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Walter Jones (N.C.). On Thursday evening, these same three also voted against invoking “martial law” to speed the legislation to the floor.

The other three Republican were Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.).

According to The Hill, the majority of lawmakers stick with their party on the rules votes even if they plan to vote against the underlying legislation.

The floor debate on the healthcare legislation is scheduled to last four hours, with equal time given to Republicans and Democrats. It is likely a vote will happen between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

After President Trump delivered an ultimatum late Thursday night amid a dwindling whip count, Republicans are moving swiftly to vote on the healthcare measure.

The Hill’s whip list shows around 30 Republicans planning to vote against the bill. That’s more than the maximum of 22 defections GOP leaders can afford and have the bill still pass.

GOP officials and the White House are hoping that the prospect of the bill failing will assist to flip votes into passing it as the day progresses.

The House voted late Thursday night to waive a requirement that lawmakers wait a day before considering a measure produced out of the House Rules Committee, which determines how bills are considered on the floor.

The waiver allows the House to take up anything approved out of the Rules Committee within hours. It’s a move typically reserved for tight deadlines, like avoiding a government shutdown, rather than sweeping legislation like the GOP plan to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system.

As such, four Republicans – Amash, Massie, Jones and Rep. David Young (Iowa) – voted against fast-tracking the process and those individuals also plan to vote against the healthcare plan.

A measure was passed early Friday morning by the Rules Committee that makes provisions to the legislation, as well as rules for floor debate.

Among other provisions, the changes would eliminate Obamacare’s minimum requirements for insurance coverage in an attempt to win over conservatives. The essential health benefits include things like maternity care, outpatient services and hospitalization.

The report further states that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not been able to review the new analysis of the GOP’s legislation and determine how it would affect the healthcare system; further, it will not be able to do so in time for the House vote late Friday afternoon.

H/T: The Hill

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