Emboldened by Donald Trump’s surprise victory, Republican lawmakers vowed after Election Night that they wouldn’t waste a single day to pursue their most urgent mission: Kill Obamacare.
The President-elect, too, has been in a hurry, declaring that the Affordable Care Act must be repealed and replaced more or less at the same time. “Probably the same day, could be the same hour,” Trump said at a news conference last week.
But on Capitol Hill, urgency doesn’t always translate into speed.
In the first two weeks of the new year, Republican leaders have confronted resistance from rank-and-file lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum. Nervous about the potential political fallout of moving too fast on Obamacare repeal, some Republicans are now cautioning restraint – a stark contrast from their ferocious attacks against President Barack Obama’s signature health care law over the past several years.
Trump further complicated matters over the weekend when he told The Washington Post that he was nearly finished with his own plan to replace Obamacare and warned that he won’t let Congress get in his way.
“The Congress can’t get cold feet because the people will not let that happen,” Trump said.
Although he didn’t offer much in the way of details, the incoming president’s comment that he wants both “insurance for everybody” with “much lower deductibles” sets the stage for a potential clash and drawn out negotiations with Republican lawmakers who have been stressing universal access over universal coverage.
“Repeal and replace is a bloody complicated exercise,” said Brian Fortune, president of the Farragut Square Group, a health care consulting firm in Washington. “The challenge for the Republicans is, of course, to rework something with