The obstacle for leadership was to pass the bill through committee without significant defections
Three conservatives voted against the bill but that was not enough to stop it
The Republican proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare cleared a key procedural hurdle Thursday when the House Budget Committee voted in favor of the measure supported by GOP leadership and President Donald Trump.
Of the 36-member committee, the three Republican defections were Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Dave Brat of Virginia and Gary Palmer of Alabama, all members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. That wasn’t enough to topple the 19 Republicans who did support it. All 14 Democrats on the committee voted against it.
The early morning vote was quicker than expected and the legislation now moves to the House Rules Committee.
The committee took the unexpected step of holding the vote to advance the legislation at the beginning of the meeting, instead of allowing all members to speak before the vote. The session was expected to be contentious with some conservatives clearly opposed to the legislation as it stands now.
The budget committee’s job was to package together plans already approved by the House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce Committees last week after marathon markups.
Committee chairwoman Rep. Diane Black said in her opening statement Thursday those who wish to see the legislation changed should stay engaged in the process.
“Stay in this effort and help us enhance this proposal by advancing it out of committee and pushing for further conservative reforms. Members who desire to see this bill improved have every right to make their voices heard,” Black said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted he was “clearly in sync” with the White House in addressing concerns of House Republicans and putting together the votes to pass the bill.
“This President is getting deeply involved. He is helping bridge gaps in our conference. He is a constructive force to help us to get to a resolution so that we get consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Ryan told reporters at this weekly news conference.
House Republicans passed along four non-binding recommendations to the House Rules Committee, which may meet as early as next week.
The recommendations may give some insight into which way the legislation is moving, but the Rules Committee will have the final say on whether they even act on any of the motions. The suggestions included giving states more flexibility in designing their Medicaid programs as well as work requirements for Medicaid recipients and minimizing the ability of “able-bodied” adults to sign up for Medicaid.