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April 25, 2017

White House says there's no 'artificial deadline' on ACA repeal vote

Daily Briefing

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday said lawmakers might not consider legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week.

    Spicer's comments come after some senior Trump administration officials had suggested the House could vote Thursday on a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Final details on a compromise amendment by Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group, and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, have not yet been publicly released. According to Axios, Republican leaders still are talking with lawmakers to see if the deal will secure the 216 votes needed to pass the measure in the House.

    A person who participated in a Saturday conference call regarding House Republicans' legislative plans for this week said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made it clear he would not bring the AHCA for a vote on the House floor unless he is confident he has the votes needed to advance the measure, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Spice says AHCA vote might not happen this week

    Spicer said the administration's "goal" when it comes to health care reform "is to get it done and get it done right and … to make sure that we have the votes" to pass such legislation in the House.

    "I think whenever [Ryan] and the leadership over in the House tell us that they feel confident that they have the votes, then we would encourage them to move forward," he said, adding, "If it happens and we have the votes this week, great, if it's next week or the week after … I think we want to make sure that we've got the votes and we're headed in the right direction before putting some kind of artificial deadline."

    Congress looks to avoid federal shutdown 

    Republican lawmakers and aides have said Congress' focus on passing legislation to fund the federal government could take priority this week over health reform efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports. Congress must pass a spending bill for fiscal year 2017 by the end of Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown.

    Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) after Saturday's conference call said, "The priority for most of us is to get a funding bill done by the end of the day Friday." He added that although recently proposed changes to the AHCA have "reinvigorated the discussions" about health reform, he "think[s] it'd be premature to say [House lawmakers are] ready to go with a bill yet."

    The spending bill could face a few potential hurdles. For instance, Axios reports that Democrats on Sunday renewed calls for Republicans to include money for the ACA's cost-sharing subsidies as "mandatory funding" in the federal spending measure. The White House and Republican lawmakers have yet to say how they will address the subsidies, which are being challenged in court. According to Axios, some Republicans are hesitant to be seen as helping the ACA by funding the subsidies, even if not doing so jeopardizes the individual health insurance market (Nelson, Politico, 4/24; Rascoe/Walks, Reuters, 4/24; Peterson, Wall Street Journal, 4/24; Swan/Nather, Axios, 4/24; Nather, "Vitals," Axios, 4/25).

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