By JAY CANNON, Capital News Service
WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer expressed his doubts Tuesday that a new Republican healthcare bill will come any time before the 2020 election cycle, despite Trump administration claims that a plan is coming.
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a Democratic resolution condemning White House efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in full. A repeal would greatly shake up the landscape of American health care, but temporarily leave roughly 20 million citizens without coverage.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., joined at right by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at an event to announce legislation to lower health care costs and protect people with pre-existing medical conditions, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. The Democratic action comes after the Trump administration told a federal appeals court that the entire Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” should be struck down as unconstitutional. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“I hope some Republicans vote with us on that tomorrow,” Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, said of the resolution. “The president said in his tweet yesterday – of course yesterday his tweet fell on April Fools Day, just to make that observation — he said that he’s going to have a really good bill…It will not come.”
Trump’s tweets on Monday represent a backtracking on his administration’s initial involvement in a Texas court case last week seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.
“The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare,” Trump tweeted. “Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House. It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America.”
The president’s resurrection of the health care issue has caused consternation among many congressional Republicans, who saw little political benefit in ending an increasingly popular program, according to multiple news accounts.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters Tuesday that he spoke to Trump on Monday and told him that Republicans had attempted unsuccessfully to pass comprehensive health care reform when they were in charge of both houses. Now, with a Democratic House, GOP senators were not going to revisit the matter, McConnell said.
“I made it clear we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” the Kentuckian said.
Indeed, Trump’s decision to postpone a formal health care replacement bill until after the 2020 election is likely a result of Obamacare’s increased popularity among Americans in recent years. According to polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation last month, approximately 50% of Americans have a favorable view of the health reform bill, an increase of 12 percentage points from March 2014.
As a result, making health care a centerpiece topic for the 2020 election cycle might not be in Trump’s best interests.
“The president’s view will make the 2020 (election) all about healthcare as well. I would suggest that’s good for us,” Democratic House leader Hoyer told reporters at his weekly press briefing.
On another matter, Hoyer also expressed his hope that the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which the House is scheduled to vote on Wednesday, garners bipartisan support.
If passed, the bill would keep those convicted of domestic and sexual assault related crimes from purchasing firearms as well as improve services for victims.
“There’s some talk that the (National Rifle Association) is uptight about this, but we made a provision for domestic abusers not to be able to purchase firearms,” Hoyer said. “I certainly hope the Republicans not only will support the bill, but also will oppose a (bill) that will negatively affect the women of our country.”
Other iterations of the bill cast in 1994, 2000 and 2013 each passed with bipartisan support in the House.