House Republicans will face a tough decision Thursday when they decide whether to vote for or against President Trump’s healthcare bill (American Healthcare Act).
The vote is becoming a test for Republicans — will they choose to back the president to help in pivotal re-election races, or will this support alienate powerful, right-wing conservative advocacy groups who do not support the reform?
Groups such as Americans for Prosperity — established by the Koch brothers — are threatening to retaliate against Republicans who support the bill. In what they call “keying” the vote, these conservative groups will use a representative’s vote to determine if he or she is conservative enough for them to support in next year’s congressional elections.
This puts House Republicans in a tough spot as President Trump warned them on Tuesday that their seats will be at risk if they do not support his bill. Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina said:
“He warned us that there are consequences if we don’t come together for us as a party and also for individuals. He wasn’t threatening in any way. He was just giving us a pretty clear warning.”
On the other hand, many conservatives assert the bill does not go far enough to undo Obamacare’s damage and are not happy with the administration’s attempts to placate these concerns. However, factors such as the Koch influence could have an impact for those worried about re-election.
Nathan Gonzales, a congressional political analyst in Washington, stated, “Groups such as the Kochs have been an important part of a coalition of outside Republicans. If that coalition falters, that could contribute to Democratic gains.”
For example, in 2016, Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth targeted House Republican Renee Ellmers of North Carolina for being too close with House leadership and not resisting government spending. The then-representative subsequently lost in her primary fight.
Despite the pressure from right-wing groups, on Tuesday, NBC news reported that 26 House Republicans oppose the bill and no Democrats are expected to support it, which would leave House Speaker Paul Ryan short of the 216 votes needed.
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